Podvigina D N, Fahretdinova D A, Podvigin N F, 2006, "Human estimation of short time intervals" Perception 35 ECVP Abstract Supplement
Human estimation of short time intervals
D N Podvigina, D A Fahretdinova, N F Podvigin
In psychophysical experiments we studied how observers estimate short time intervals within the 30 - 1930 ms range. This interval included 20 sub-intervals, which differed from each other by 100 ms. Estimation of such short time intervals has not been studied before. Subjects estimated unfilled time intervals bounded with visual stimuli (2 bright thin lines). Absolute error of estimate of each sub-interval was about 12% of its real duration which indicates high precision of estimate of such short intervals. Subjective estimates of the time intervals depended linearly on the real values. Moreover, intervals shorter than 1130 ms tended to be overestimated, while longer intervals tended to be underestimated. For the studied range of time intervals, we show that interval of about 1130 - 1400 ms is most precisely estimated, and we consider it as a neutral interval. Our data show that 75% of subjects created a subjective discrete scale of time estimate including about 4 scores. We believe that further experiments will show that this scale agrees with Miller's law (over all stimuli presented, untrained subject can discriminate 72 successfully), which characterises the functioning of the human sensory systems. We discuss possible neuronal organisation of the system involved in estimating short time intervals (see also Podvigin et al, 2003 6th International Congress of the Polish Neuroscience Society, Strzekecino, Poland, 19 - 23 July, pp 45 - 47; abstracts of the satellite symposium Time, Cognition, Thinking, website: http://www.brains.nencki.gov.pl).
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