Adapting to time: duration channels do not mediate human time perception

WIlliam Curran, Christopher Benton, Julie Harris, Paul Barry Hibbard, L Beattie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Accurately encoding the duration and temporal order of events is essential for survival and important to everyday activities, from holding conversations to driving in fast-flowing traffic. Although there is a growing body of evidence that the timing of brief events (< 1 s) is encoded by modality-specific mechanisms, it is not clear how such mechanisms register event duration. One approach gaining traction is a channel-based model; this envisages narrowly-tuned, overlapping timing mechanisms that respond preferentially to different durations. The channel-based model predicts that adapting to a given event duration will result in overestimating and underestimating the duration of longer and shorter events, respectively. We tested the model by having observers judge the duration of a brief (600 ms) visual test stimulus following adaptation to longer (860 ms) and shorter (340 ms) stimulus durations. The channel-based model predicts perceived duration compression of the test stimulus in the former condition and perceived duration expansion in the latter condition. Duration compression occurred in both conditions, suggesting that the channel-based model does not adequately account for perceived duration of visual events.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Perceived duration
  • Adaptation
  • Timing models
  • Psychophysics


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