Memory for time distinguishes between perception and action

Perception. 2010;39(1):81-90. doi: 10.1068/p6405.


Our experience of time is unlike that of other features of the sensory world such as colour, movement, touch, or sound because there is no unique receptor system through which it is received. However, since time can be perceived, remembered, estimated, and compared in a way analogous to other sensory experiences, it should perhaps be subject to some of the same architectures or principles that have advanced understanding in these other domains. By adapting a task designed to test visual memory within a perception/action framework we investigated whether memory for time is affected by the use to which temporal information is put. When remembering a visual or auditory duration for subsequent motor production, storage is biased by a delay of up to 8 s. When the same duration is remembered for subsequent perception, however, there is no such effect of delay on memory. The results suggest a distinction in temporal memory that parallels the perception/action dichotomy in vision.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Color Perception*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time*
  • Time Perception*
  • Young Adult