October 2020
Volume 20, Issue 11
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   October 2020
Tachypsychia —the subjective expansion of time— happens in immediate memory, not perceptual experience
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ian Phillips
    Johns Hopkins University
  • Aditya Upadhyayula
    Johns Hopkins University
  • Jonathan Flombaum
    Johns Hopkins University
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  NSF PAC Award #1534568
Journal of Vision October 2020, Vol.20, 1466. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1466
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      Ian Phillips, Aditya Upadhyayula, Jonathan Flombaum; Tachypsychia —the subjective expansion of time— happens in immediate memory, not perceptual experience. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):1466. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1466.

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

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Tachypsychia is the distortion of the experienced passage of time. In the lab, the phenomenon has been studied psychophysically under the label ‘subjective time expansion.’ Notably, Tse and colleagues (2004) demonstrated how unexpected visual events, ‘oddballs,’ are perceived as lasting longer than expected ‘standard’ events. For example, a looming disk seems to last longer when it follows otherwise identical (and equal duration) static disks. Is this evidence of experienced or remembered time as passing more slowly? If we could isolate individual moments during an extended duration, would each moment be longer such that they add up to a longer total? We report results that suggest instead that a whole ‘oddball’ experience is only remembered as lasting longer. We replicated several of Tse et al.’s experiments, focusing on duration reproduction methods. Participants held down a key to reproduce the duration of the last disk in a series. In the replication, the final disk was either an oddball or a standard. Oddballs were reproduced as lasting longer. In a modified experiment, the final disk was always a standard. However, critically, the keypress used to reproduce duration initiated the onset of another disk which was either an oddball or another standard. Releasing the key removed the oddball or standard. Subjects were instructed to produce a disk that reproduced the duration of the last disk seen. If oddballs expand experienced time, then this manipulation should replicate the typical oddball effect. Instead, we found no difference for oddballs compared to standards. The same was true in an auditory version of the experiment where reproduction keypresses onset and offset an oddball or standard tone. Together with additional controls and replications, these results suggest that the experienced passage of time is not distorted by oddball stimuli. Rather the passage of time can become immediately distorted in memory.


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