, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 328-341

Time perception with and without a concurrent nontemporal task


Prospective time estimates were obtained from human subjects for stimulus durations ranging from 2 to 23 sec. Presence and absence of a concurrent nontemporal task was manipulated within subjects in three experiments. In addition, location of the task within temporal reproduction trials and psychophysical method were varied between groups in Experiments 2 and 3, respectively. For long-duration stimuli, the results of all three experiments conformed to results in the literature, showing a decrease in perceived duration under concurrent task conditions, in accord with attentional resource allocation models of timing. The effects of task location and psychophysical method on time estimates were also compatible with this analysis. However, psychophysical functions obtained under task conditions were fit well by power functions, an outcome that would not be anticipated on the basis of attention theory. The slopes of the functions under no-task conditions were steeper than those under task conditions. The data support the perceptual hypothesis that different sources of sensory input mediate timing under task and no-task conditions.

A portion of the results of this study was reported in papers presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, April 1997 in Washington, DC. The research was supported by grants from the PSC-CUNY Research Awards Program of the City University of New York.
Note—This article was accepted by the previous editorial team, headed by Neil Macmillan.