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Perception of the duration of auditory and visual stimuli in children and adults

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This experiment investigated the effect of modality on temporal discrimination in children aged 5 and 8 years and adults using a bisection task with visual and auditory stimuli ranging from 200 to 800 ms. In the first session, participants were required to compare stimulus durations with standard durations presented in the same modality (within-modality session), and in the second session in different modalities (cross-modal session). Psychophysical functions were orderly in all age groups, with the proportion of long responses (judgement that a duration was more similar to the long than to the short standard) increasing with the stimulus duration, although functions were flatter in the 5-year-olds than in the 8-year-olds and adults. Auditory stimuli were judged to be longer than visual stimuli in all age groups. The statistical results and a theoretical model suggested that this modality effect was due to differences in the pacemaker speed of the internal clock. The 5-year-olds also judged visual stimuli as more variable than auditory ones, indicating that their temporal sensitivity was lower in the visual than in the auditory modality.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02724980343000495

Affiliations: Blaise Pascal University Clermont-Ferrand France

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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