Modeling effects of rhythmic context on perceived duration: a comparison of interval and entrainment approaches to short-interval timing

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2003 Dec;29(6):1102-25. doi: 10.1037/0096-1523.29.6.1102.


Relative merits of interval and entrainment conceptions of the internal clock were assessed within a common theoretical framework by 4 time-judgment experiments. The timing of tone onsets marking the beginning and ending of standard and comparison time intervals relative to a context rhythm were manipulated: onsets were on time, early, or late relative to the implied rhythm, and 2 distinct accuracy patterns emerged. A quadratic ending profile indicated best performance when the standard ended on time and worst performance when it was early or late, whereas a flat beginning profile (Experiments 1-3) indicated uniform performance for the 3 expectancy conditions. Only in Experiment 4, in which deviations from expected onset times were large, did significant effects of beginning times appear in time-discrimination thresholds and points of subjective equality. Findings are discussed in the context of theoretical assumptions about clock resetting, the representation of time, and independence of successive time intervals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Models, Psychological
  • Periodicity*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Random Allocation
  • Time Perception*