Interval discrimination across different duration ranges with a look at spatial compatibility and context effects

Front Psychol. 2014 Jul 8;5:717. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00717. eCollection 2014.


In the present study, a time discrimination task was used to investigate the effect of different contexts for intervals varying from 400 to 1600 ms. A potential time-space interaction was controlled, and participants used both manual responses (Experiments 1 and 2) and vocal responses (Experiment 3). Three ranges of durations were employed (short, middle and long), and within each range condition, three standard values were used (400, 700, and 1000 ms; 700, 1000, and 1300 ms; and 1000, 1300, and 1600 ms). Within each range, standard intervals were randomized (Experiments 1 and 3) or remained constant (Experiment 2) within a block of trials. Our results suggest that context influences time discrimination performances only when the temporal range under investigation is below 1300 ms and the temporal intervals varied within blocks. In the case of temporal intervals longer than 1300 ms, participants presented a tendency to respond "long" independently of the procedure used. Moreover, our results suggested that performances in a discrimination task are mainly influenced by the fact of varying standard durations within blocks, and not much by the time-space compatibility.

Keywords: context effect; manual responses; spatial compatibility; temporal intervals; time discrimination; verbal responses.