Subjective time estimation in Antarctica: The impact of extreme environments and isolation on a time production task

Neurosci Lett. 2020 Apr 23;725:134893. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2020.134893. Epub 2020 Mar 5.


Interval timing measures time estimation in the seconds-to-minutes range. Antarctica provides a real-world context to study the effect of extreme photoperiods and isolation on time perception. The aim of this study was to explore interval timing as a cognitive measure in the crew of Belgrano II Argentine Antarctic Station. A total of 13 subjects were assessed for interval timing in short (3 s), intermediate (6 s) and long (12 s) duration stimuli. Measures were taken during the morning and evening, five times along the year. Significant variations were found for 3 s and 6 s during the morning and 6 s during the evening. Results suggest an impact of isolation on morning performances and an effect of the polar night on evening measures. These findings shed some light on the use of interval timing as a cognitive test to assess performance in extreme environments.

Keywords: Antarctica; Circadian rhythms; Extreme environment; Interval timing; Polar night.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antarctic Regions / epidemiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Extreme Environments*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / psychology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photoperiod*
  • Seasons*
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*