Adaptive tuning of perceptual timing to whole body motion

Neuropsychologia. 2013 Jan;51(2):197-210. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.10.029. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


In a previous work we have shown that sinusoidal whole-body rotations producing continuous vestibular stimulation, affected the timing of motor responses as assessed with a paced finger tapping (PFT) task (Binetti et al. (2010). Neuropsychologia, 48(6), 1842-1852). Here, in two new psychophysical experiments, one purely perceptual and one with both sensory and motor components, we explored the relationship between body motion/vestibular stimulation and perceived timing of acoustic events. In experiment 1, participants were required to discriminate sequences of acoustic tones endowed with different degrees of acceleration or deceleration. In this experiment we found that a tone sequence presented during acceleratory whole-body rotations required a progressive increase in rate in order to be considered temporally regular, consistent with the idea of an increase in "clock" frequency and of an overestimation of time. In experiment 2 participants produced self-paced taps, which entailed an acoustic feedback. We found that tapping frequency in this task was affected by periodic motion by means of anticipatory and congruent (in-phase) fluctuations irrespective of the self-generated sensory feedback. On the other hand, synchronizing taps to an external rhythm determined a completely opposite modulation (delayed/counter-phase). Overall this study shows that body displacements "remap" our metric of time, affecting not only motor output but also sensory input.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Rotation
  • Time Perception / physiology*