The effects of type of interval, sensory modality, base duration, and psychophysical task on the discrimination of brief time intervals

Rammsayer, Thomas (2014). The effects of type of interval, sensory modality, base duration, and psychophysical task on the discrimination of brief time intervals. Attention, perception, & psychophysics : AP&P, 76(4), pp. 1185-1196. Springer 10.3758/s13414-014-0655-x

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The present study was designed to investigate the influences of type of psychophysical task (two-alternative forced-choice [2AFC] and reminder tasks), type of interval (filled vs. empty), sensory modality (auditory vs. visual), and base duration (ranging from 100 through 1,000 ms) on performance on duration discrimination. All of these factors were systematically varied in an experiment comprising 192 participants. This approach allowed for obtaining information not only on the general (main) effect of each factor alone, but also on the functional interplay and mutual interactions of some or all of these factors combined. Temporal sensitivity was markedly higher for auditory than for visual intervals, as well as for the reminder relative to the 2AFC task. With regard to base duration, discrimination performance deteriorated with decreasing base durations for intervals below 400 ms, whereas longer intervals were not affected. No indication emerged that overall performance on duration discrimination was influenced by the type of interval, and only two significant interactions were apparent: Base Duration × Type of Interval and Base Duration × Sensory Modality. With filled intervals, the deteriorating effect of base duration was limited to very brief base durations, not exceeding 100 ms, whereas with empty intervals, temporal discriminability was also affected for the 200-ms base duration. Similarly, the performance decrement observed with visual relative to auditory intervals increased with decreasing base durations. These findings suggest that type of task, sensory modality, and base duration represent largely independent sources of variance for performance on duration discrimination that can be accounted for by distinct nontemporal mechanisms.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Personality Psychology, Differential Psychology and Diagnostics

UniBE Contributor:

Rammsayer, Thomas


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 370 Education








Karin Dubler

Date Deposited:

24 Mar 2015 16:37

Last Modified:

25 Apr 2019 09:40

Publisher DOI:





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