The impact of a concurrent motor task on auditory and visual temporal discrimination tasks

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2016 Apr;78(3):742-8. doi: 10.3758/s13414-016-1082-y.


Previous studies have shown the presence of an interference effect on temporal perception when participants are required to simultaneously execute a nontemporal task. Such interference likely has an attentional source. In the present work, a temporal discrimination task was performed alone or together with a self-paced finger-tapping task used as concurrent, nontemporal task. Temporal durations were presented in either the visual or the auditory modality, and two standard durations (500 and 1,500 ms) were used. For each experimental condition, the participant's threshold was estimated and analyzed. The mean Weber fraction was higher in the visual than in the auditory modality, but only for the subsecond duration, and it was higher with the 500-ms than with the 1,500-ms standard duration. Interestingly, the Weber fraction was significantly higher in the dual-task condition, but only in the visual modality. The results suggest that the processing of time in the auditory modality is likely automatic, but not in the visual modality.

Keywords: Attention; Auditory temporal discrimination; Finger-tapping task; Interference; Visual temporal discrimination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Perception*
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult