The effects of payoff manipulations on temporal bisection performance

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2016 Oct;170:74-83. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.06.007. Epub 2016 Jul 2.


There is growing evidence that alterations in reward rates modify timing behavior demonstrating the role of motivational factors in interval timing behavior. This study aimed to investigate the effects of manipulations of rewards and penalties on temporal bisection performance in humans. Participants were trained to classify experienced time intervals as short or long based on the reference durations. Two groups of participants were tested under three different bias conditions in which either the relative reward magnitude or penalty associated with correct or incorrect categorizations of short and long reference durations was manipulated. Participants adapted their choice behavior (i.e., psychometric functions shifted) based on these payoff manipulations in directions predicted by reward maximization. The signal detection theory-based analysis of the data revealed that payoff contingencies affected the response bias parameter (B″) without altering participants' sensitivity (A') to temporal distances. Finally, the response time (RT) analysis showed that short categorization RTs increased, whereas long categorization RTs decreased as a function of stimulus durations. However, overall RTs did not exhibit any modulation in response to payoff manipulations. Taken together, this study provides additional support for the effects of motivational variables on temporal decision-making.

Keywords: Interval timing; Motivation; Optimality; Temporal bisection.

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reward*
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult