Dynamic calibration of our sense of time

Neuropsychologia. 2011 Jan;49(1):147-50. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.11.004. Epub 2010 Nov 13.


An accurate sense of time contributes to functions ranging from the perception and anticipation of sensory events to the production of coordinated movements. However, accumulating evidence demonstrates that time perception is subject to strong illusory distortion. In two experiments, we investigated whether the subjective speed of temporal perception is dependent on our visual environment. By presenting human observers with speed-altered movies of a crowded street scene, we modulated performance on subsequent production of "20s" elapsed intervals. Our results indicate that one's visual environment significantly contributes to calibrating our sense of time, independently of any modulation of arousal. This plasticity generates an assay for the integrity of our sense of time and its rehabilitation in clinical pathologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Calibration*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kinesthesis*
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult