Differences in the temporal processing between identification and categorization of durations: A behavioral and ERP study

Behav Brain Res. 2019 Jan 1;356:197-203. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.027. Epub 2018 Sep 3.


This study examined how different forms of decision-making modulate time perception. Participants performed temporal bisection and generalization tasks, requiring them to either categorize a stimulus duration as more similar to short or long standards (bisection), or identify whether or not a duration was the same as a previously-presented standard (generalization). They responded faster in the bisection task than in the generalization one for long durations. This behavioral effect was accompanied by modulation of event-related potentials (ERPs). More specifically, between 500 ms and 600 ms after stimulus offset, a late positive component (LPC), appearing in the centro-parietal region, showed lower amplitude in the bisection task than in the generalization one, for long durations, mirroring the behavioral result. Before (200-500 ms) and after (600-800 ms) this window, the amplitude of the LPC was globally larger in the generalization paradigm, independently of the presented duration. Finally, the LPC amplitude was higher for long durations than for shorter ones at the beginning of the component (between 200 and 300 ms after stimulus extinction) and was then higher for short durations than for longer ones (between 300 and 600 ms after offset), indicating that the decision about the former stimuli was made earlier than for the latter ones. Taken together, these results indicate that the categorization of durations engages fewer cognitive resources than their identification.

Keywords: Bisection; Decision-making; ERP; Generalization; LPC; Time perception.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult