, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 77-87

Perceived duration of expected and unexpected stimuli

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Abstract

Three experiments assessed whether perceived stimulus duration depends on whether participants process an expected or an unexpected visual stimulus. Participants compared the duration of a constant standard stimulus with a variable comparison stimulus. Changes in expectancy were induced by presenting one type of comparison more frequently than another type. Experiment 1 used standard durations of 100 and 400 ms, and Experiments 2 and 3 durations of 400 and 800 ms. Stimulus frequency did not affect perceived duration in Experiment 1. In Experiments 2 and 3, however, frequent comparisons were perceived as shorter than infrequent ones, and discrimination performance was better for infrequent comparisons. Overall, this study supports the notion that infrequent stimuli increase the speed of an internal pacemaker.