What Happens in a Moment

Front Psychol. 2016 Jan 7;6:1905. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01905. eCollection 2015.


There has been evidence for the very brief, temporal quantization of perceptual experience at regular intervals below 100 ms for several decades. We briefly describe how earlier studies led to the concept of "psychological moment" of between 50 and 60 ms duration. According to historical theories, within the psychological moment all events would be processed as co-temporal. More recently, a link with physiological mechanisms has been proposed, according to which the 50-60 ms psychological moment would be defined by the upper limit required by neural mechanisms to synchronize and thereby represent a snapshot of current perceptual event structure. However, our own experimental developments also identify a more fine-scaled, serialized process structure within the psychological moment. Our data suggests that not all events are processed as co-temporal within the psychological moment and instead, some are processed successively. This evidence questions the analog relationship between synchronized process and simultaneous experience and opens debate on the ontology and function of "moments" in psychological experience.

Keywords: Simon effect; perceptual organization; psychological moment; serial processing; time.

Publication types

  • Review