Brain Topography

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 104–112 | Cite as

Facial Emotion Modulates the Neural Mechanisms Responsible for Short Interval Time Perception

  • Jason TipplesEmail author
  • Victoria Brattan
  • Pat Johnston
Original Paper


Emotionally arousing events can distort our sense of time. We used mixed block/event-related fMRI design to establish the neural basis for this effect. Nineteen participants were asked to judge whether angry, happy and neutral facial expressions that varied in duration (from 400 to 1,600 ms) were closer in duration to either a short or long duration they learnt previously. Time was overestimated for both angry and happy expressions compared to neutral expressions. For faces presented for 700 ms, facial emotion modulated activity in regions of the timing network Wiener et al. (NeuroImage 49(2):1728–1740, 2010) namely the right supplementary motor area (SMA) and the junction of the right inferior frontal gyrus and anterior insula (IFG/AI). Reaction times were slowest when faces were displayed for 700 ms indicating increased decision making difficulty. Taken together with existing electrophysiological evidence Ng et al. (Neuroscience, doi:  10.3389/fnint.2011.00077, 2011), the effects are consistent with the idea that facial emotion moderates temporal decision making and that the right SMA and right IFG/AI are key neural structures responsible for this effect.


Time perception Neural clock Emotion 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HullHullUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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