Psychophysical assessment of timing in individuals with autism

Am J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2011 Mar;116(2):165-78. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-116.2.165.


Perception of time, in the seconds to minutes range, is not well characterized in autism. The required interval timing system (ITS) develops at the same stages during infancy as communication, social reciprocity, and other cognitive and behavioral functions. The authors used two versions of a temporal bisection procedure to study the perception of duration in individuals with autism and observed quantifiable differences and characteristic patterns in participants' timing functions. Measures of timing performance correlated with certain autism diagnostic and intelligence scores, and parents described individuals with autism as having a poor sense of time. The authors modeled the data to provide a relative assessment of ITS function in these individuals. The implications of these results for the understanding of autism are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Computer Simulation
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Judgment
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Psychophysics
  • Time Perception / physiology*