Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 522–526

Temporal uncertainty degrades perceptual processing

  • Bettina Rolke
  • Peter Hofmann
Brief Reports

DOI: 10.3758/BF03194101

Cite this article as:
Rolke, B. & Hofmann, P. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2007) 14: 522. doi:10.3758/BF03194101


When participants are required to react to a stimulus, reaction times (RTs) are usually reduced when temporal uncertainty about stimulus occurrence is minimized. Contrary to the common assumption attributing this RT benefit solely to the speeding of motor processes, recent evidence suggests that temporal uncertainty might rather influence premotoric processing levels. We employed a backward-masking procedure to further confine the locus of the temporal uncertainty effect. Participants performed a discrimination task and indicated whether a spatial gap within a square was on the right or the left side. In addition to the shorter RTs, visual discrimination accuracy was improved when temporal uncertainty was low. This result demonstrates that temporal uncertainty influences stimulus processing at a perceptual level.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bettina Rolke
    • 1
  • Peter Hofmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Cognitive and Biological PsychologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany