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Keywords:

  • auditory processing;
  • intermodality;
  • time perception;
  • visual processing

Abstract

A challenge for researchers in the time-perception field is to determine whether temporal processing is governed by a central mechanism or by multiple mechanisms working in concert. Behavioral studies of parallel timing offer interesting insights into the question, although the conclusions fail to converge. Most of these studies focus on the number-of-clocks issue, but the commonality of memory mechanisms involved in time processing is often neglected. The present experiment aims to address a straightforward question: do signals from different modalities marking time intervals share the same clock and/or the same memory resources? To this end, an interval reproduction task involving the parallel timing of two sensory signals presented either in the same modality or in different modalities was conducted. The memory component was tested by manipulating the delay separating the presentation of the target intervals and the moment when the reproduction of one of these began. Results show that there is more variance when only visually marked intervals are presented, and this effect is exacerbated with longer retention delays. Finally, when there is only one interval to process, encoding the interval with signals delivered from two modalities helps to reduce variance. Taken together, these results suggest that the hypothesis stating that there are sensory-specific clock components and memory mechanisms is viable.