Bias and learning in temporal binding: intervals between actions and outcomes are compressed by prior bias

Conscious Cogn. 2013 Dec;22(4):1174-80. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Sep 7.


It has consistently been shown that agents judge the intervals between their actions and outcomes as compressed in time, an effect named intentional binding. In the present work, we investigated whether this effect is result of prior bias volunteers have about the timing of the consequences of their actions, or if it is due to learning that occurs during the experimental session. Volunteers made temporal estimates of the interval between their action and target onset (Action conditions), or between two events (No-Action conditions). Our results show that temporal estimates become shorter throughout each experimental block in both conditions. Moreover, we found that observers judged intervals between action and outcomes as shorter even in very early trials of each block. To quantify the decrease of temporal judgments in experimental blocks, exponential functions were fitted to participants' temporal judgments. The fitted parameters suggest that observers had different prior biases as to intervals between events in which action was involved. These findings suggest that prior bias might play a more important role in this effect than calibration-type learning processes.

Keywords: Intentional binding; Learning; Time perception; Voluntary action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Judgment*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*