Stimulus repetition and the perception of time: the effects of prior exposure on temporal discrimination, judgment, and production

PLoS One. 2011 May 9;6(5):e19815. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019815.


It has been suggested that repeated stimuli have shorter subjective duration than novel items, perhaps because of a reduction in the neural response to repeated presentations of the same object. Five experiments investigated the effects of repetition on time perception and found further evidence that immediate repetition reduces apparent duration, consistent with the idea that subjective duration is partly based on neural coding efficiency. In addition, the experiments found (a) no effect of repetition on the precision of temporal discrimination, (b) that the effects of repetition disappeared when there was a modest lag between presentations, (c) that, across participants, the size of the repetition effect correlated with temporal discrimination, and (d) that the effects of repetition suggested by a temporal production task were the opposite of those suggested by temporal judgments. The theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception / physiology*