Vibrotactile timing: Are vibrotactile judgements of duration affected by repetitive stimulation?

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2016;69(1):75-88. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2015.1023735. Epub 2015 May 12.


Timing in the vibrotactile modality was explored. Previous research has shown that repetitive auditory stimulation (in the form of click-trains) and visual stimulation (in the form of flickers) can alter duration judgements in a manner consistent with a "speeding up" of an internal clock. In Experiments 1 and 2 we investigated whether repetitive vibrotactile stimulation in the form of vibration trains would also alter duration judgements of either vibrotactile stimuli or visual stimuli. Participants gave verbal estimates of the duration of vibrotactile and visual stimuli that were preceded either by five seconds of 5-Hz vibration trains, or, by a five-second period of no vibrotactile stimulation, the end of which was signalled by a single vibration pulse (control condition). The results showed that durations were overestimated in the vibrotactile train conditions relative to the control condition; however, the effects were not multiplicative (did not increase with increasing stimulus duration) and as such were not consistent with a speeding up of the internal clock, but rather with an additive attentional effect. An additional finding was that the slope of the vibrotactile psychometric (control condition) function was not significantly different from that of the visual (control condition) function, which replicates a finding from a previous cross-modal comparison of timing.

Keywords: Interval timing; Scalar expectancy theory; Time perception; Verbal estimation; Vibrotactile.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Repetition Priming / physiology*
  • Students
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Universities
  • Vibration*