The effects of emotional states and traits on time perception

Brain Inform. 2018 Aug 20;5(2):9. doi: 10.1186/s40708-018-0087-9.


Background: Models of time perception share an element of scalar expectancy theory known as the internal clock, containing specific mechanisms by which the brain is able to experience time passing and function effectively. A debate exists about whether to treat factors that influence these internal clock mechanisms (e.g., emotion, personality, executive functions, and related neurophysiological components) as arousal- or attentional-based factors.

Purpose: This study investigated behavioral and neurophysiological responses to an affective time perception Go/NoGo task, taking into account the behavioral inhibition (BIS) and behavioral activation systems (BASs), which are components of reinforcement sensitivity theory.

Methods: After completion of self-report inventories assessing personality traits, electroencephalogram (EEG/ERP) and behavioral recordings of 32 women and 13 men recruited from introductory psychology classes were completed during an affective time perception Go/NoGo task. This task required participants to respond (Go) and inhibit (NoGo) to positive and negative affective visual stimuli of various durations in comparison to a standard duration.

Results: Higher BAS scores (especially BAS Drive) were associated with overestimation bias scores for positive stimuli, while BIS scores were not correlated with overestimation bias scores. Furthermore, higher BIS Total scores were associated with higher N2d amplitudes during positive stimulus presentation for 280 ms, while higher BAS Total scores were associated with higher N2d amplitudes during negative stimuli presentation for 910 ms.

Discussion: Findings are discussed in terms of arousal-based models of time perception, and suggestions for future research are considered.

Keywords: BIS/BAS; Emotion; Personality traits; Time perception.