Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 275–291 | Cite as

Expectation, information processing, and subjective duration

  • Rhimmon Simchy-Gross
  • Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis


In research on psychological time, it is important to examine the subjective duration of entire stimulus sequences, such as those produced by music (Teki, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 2016). Yet research on the temporal oddball illusion (according to which oddball stimuli seem longer than standard stimuli of the same duration) has examined only the subjective duration of single events contained within sequences, not the subjective duration of sequences themselves. Does the finding that oddballs seem longer than standards translate to entire sequences, such that entire sequences that contain oddballs seem longer than those that do not? Is this potential translation influenced by the mode of information processing—whether people are engaged in direct or indirect temporal processing? Two experiments aimed to answer both questions using different manipulations of information processing. In both experiments, musical sequences either did or did not contain oddballs (auditory sliding tones). To manipulate information processing, we varied the task (Experiment 1), the sequence event structure (Experiments 1 and 2), and the sequence familiarity (Experiment 2) independently within subjects. Overall, in both experiments, the sequences that contained oddballs seemed shorter than those that did not when people were engaged in direct temporal processing, but longer when people were engaged in indirect temporal processing. These findings support the dual-process contingency model of time estimation (Zakay, Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 54, 656–664, 1993). Theoretical implications for attention-based and memory-based models of time estimation, the pacemaker accumulator and coding efficiency hypotheses of time perception, and dynamic attending theory are discussed.


Attention and memory Temporal Processing Music cognition Sound recognition 



We thank Meghan Clayards, Mari Riess Jones, and three anonymous reviewers for many helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper, and Douglas Behrend, William Levine, and Nathan Parks for insightful and constructive feedback at earlier stages of this research.


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rhimmon Simchy-Gross
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychological ScienceUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of MusicUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA

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