August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Modality-dependent and modality-independent nature of central tendency in time perception
Author Affiliations
  • Yuki Murai
    Department of Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo
  • Yuki Hashimoto
    Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, The University of Tokyo
  • Yuko Yotsumoto
    Department of Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 1084. doi:
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      Yuki Murai, Yuki Hashimoto, Yuko Yotsumoto; Modality-dependent and modality-independent nature of central tendency in time perception. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1084.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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When stimuli of various durations are presented in an intermixed fashion, longer durations are underestimated, and shorter durations are overestimated. This phenomenon, called the central tendency, suggests that our brains optimally encode stimulus duration based on the likelihood measured by the timing system and the prior knowledge about the distribution of the stimulus duration. Our study aims to examine how stimulus modality affects this optimal encoding of time across different timescales. Recent studies have revealed that two distinct systems are recruited in the perception of sub- and supra-second durations. Sub-second timing is subject to local sensory processing while supra-second timing depends on relatively centralized mechanisms. We hypothesized that the central tendency occurs in a modality-dependent manner for the sub-second timing, which depends on processing within each sensory system. In the experiment, subjects were asked to reproduce sub-second (400–600 ms) or supra-second (2000–3000 ms) durations defined by the visual or auditory stimulus. Subjects performed four experimental blocks, in each of which stimulus modality and timescale of stimulus durations were fixed. The reproduced durations were linearly regressed to the stimulus durations, and the slope of the linear regression was used as an index for the magnitude of the central tendency. The central tendency of reproduced durations was observed in all conditions except auditory sub-second timing. For the sub-second timing, the magnitude of the central tendency was significantly larger for visual durations compared to auditory durations, while such a difference was not observed in the supra-second timing. Furthermore, the reproduced durations for visual and for auditory stimuli were significantly correlated across individuals for the supra-second timing. These results suggest that the modality-dependent sensory timing systems in the sub-second range are involved in the optimal encoding of time. Modality dependency of timing is discussed in relation to the Bayesian framework of time perception

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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