• A neural hierarchy for illusions of time: duration adaptation precedes multisensory integration

      Heron, James; Hotchkiss, John; Aaen-Stockdale, Craig; Roach, N.W.; Whitaker, David J. (2013)
      Perceived time is inherently malleable. For example, adaptation to relatively long or short sensory events leads to a repulsive aftereffect such that subsequent events appear to be contracted or expanded (duration adaptation). Perceived visual duration can also be distorted via concurrent presentation of discrepant auditory durations (multisensory integration). The neural loci of both distortions remain unknown. In the current study we use a psychophysical approach to establish their relative positioning within the sensory processing hierarchy. We show that audiovisual integration induces marked distortions of perceived visual duration. We proceed to use these distorted durations as visual adapting stimuli yet find subsequent visual duration aftereffects to be consistent with physical rather than perceived visual duration. Conversely, the concurrent presentation of adapted auditory durations with nonadapted visual durations results in multisensory integration patterns consistent with perceived, rather than physical, auditory duration. These results demonstrate that recent sensory history modifies human duration perception prior to the combination of temporal information across sensory modalities and provides support for adaptation mechanisms mediated by duration selective neurons situated in early areas of the visual and auditory nervous system (Aubie, Sayegh, & Faure, 2012; Duysens, Schaafsma, & Orban, 1996; Leary, Edwards, & Rose, 2008).
    • Duration channels mediate human time perception

      Heron, James; Aaen-Stockdale, Craig; Hotchkiss, John; Roach, N.W.; McGraw, Paul V.; Whitaker, David J. (2012)
      The task of deciding how long sensory events seem to last is one that the human nervous system appears to perform rapidly and, for sub-second intervals, seemingly without conscious effort. That these estimates can be performed within and between multiple sensory and motor domains suggest time perception forms one of the core, fundamental processes of our perception of the world around us. Given this significance, the current paucity in our understanding of how this process operates is surprising. One candidate mechanism for duration perception posits that duration may be mediated via a system of duration-selective 'channels', which are differentially activated depending on the match between afferent duration information and the channels' 'preferred' duration. However, this model awaits experimental validation. In the current study, we use the technique of sensory adaptation, and we present data that are well described by banks of duration channels that are limited in their bandwidth, sensory-specific, and appear to operate at a relatively early stage of visual and auditory sensory processing. Our results suggest that many of the computational principles the nervous system applies to coding visual spatial and auditory spectral information are common to its processing of temporal extent.
    • Perceived time is spatial frequency dependent

      Aaen-Stockdale, Craig; Hotchkiss, John; Heron, James; Whitaker, David J. (2011-06-01)
      We investigated whether changes in low-level image characteristics, in this case spatial frequency, were capable of generating a well-known expansion in the perceived duration of an infrequent “oddball” stimulus relative to a repeatedly-presented “standard” stimulus. Our standard and oddball stimuli were Gabor patches that differed from each other in spatial frequency by two octaves. All stimuli were equated for visibility. Rather than the expected “subjective time expansion” found in previous studies, we obtained an equal and opposite expansion or contraction of perceived time dependent upon the spatial frequency relationship of the standard and oddball stimulus. Subsequent experiments using equi-visible stimuli reveal that mid-range spatial frequencies (ca. 2 c/deg) are consistently perceived as having longer durations than low (0.5 c/deg) or high (8 c/deg) spatial frequencies, despite having the same physical duration. Rather than forming a fixed proportion of baseline duration, this bias is constant in additive terms and implicates systematic variations in visual persistence across spatial frequency. Our results have implications for the widely cited finding that auditory stimuli are judged to be longer in duration than visual stimuli.