Expectancy in humans in multisecond peak-interval timing with gaps

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2009 May;71(4):789-802. doi: 10.3758/APP.71.4.789.


In two experiments, the peak-interval procedure was used with humans to test effects related to gaps in multisecond timing. In Experiment 1, peak times of response distributions were shorter when the gap occurred later during the encoding of the criterion time to be reproduced, suggesting that gap expectancy shortened perceived durations. Peak times were also positively related to objective target durations. Spreads of response distributions were generally related to estimated durations. In Experiment 2, peak times were shortest when gaps were expected but did not occur, confirming that the shortening effect of gap expectancy is independent of the gap occurrence. High positive start-stop correlations and moderate positive peak-time-spread correlations showed strong memory variability, whereas low and negative start-spread correlations suggest small response-threshold variability. Correlations seemed not to be influenced by expectancy. Overall, the peak-interval procedure with gaps provided relevant information on similarities and differences in timing in humans and other animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Psychophysics
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Time Perception*
  • Young Adult