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Rate after-effects fail to transfer cross-modally: Evidence for distributed sensory timing mechanisms

Motala, Aysha, Heron, James, McGraw, Paul V., Roach, Neil W. and Whitaker, David ORCID: 2018. Rate after-effects fail to transfer cross-modally: Evidence for distributed sensory timing mechanisms. Scientific Reports 8 , 924. 10.1038/s41598-018-19218-z

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Accurate time perception is critical for a number of human behaviours, such as understanding speech and the appreciation of music. However, it remains unresolved whether sensory time perception is mediated by a central timing component regulating all senses, or by a set of distributed mechanisms, each dedicated to a single sensory modality and operating in a largely independent manner. To address this issue, we conducted a range of unimodal and cross-modal rate adaptation experiments, in order to establish the degree of specificity of classical after-effects of sensory adaptation. Adapting to a fast rate of sensory stimulation typically makes a moderate rate appear slower (repulsive after-effect), and vice versa. A central timing hypothesis predicts general transfer of adaptation effects across modalities, whilst distributed mechanisms predict a high degree of sensory selectivity. Rate perception was quantified by a method of temporal reproduction across all combinations of visual, auditory and tactile senses. Robust repulsive after-effects were observed in all unimodal rate conditions, but were not observed for any cross-modal pairings. Our results show that sensory timing abilities are adaptable but, crucially, that this change is modality-specific - an outcome that is consistent with a distributed sensory timing hypothesis.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Optometry and Vision Sciences
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 January 2018
Date of Acceptance: 19 December 2017
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 17:49

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