Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

The extended present: an informational context for perception

White, Peter A. 2021. The extended present: an informational context for perception. Acta Psychologica 220 , 103403. 10.1016/j.actpsy.2021.103403

[thumbnail of White. The extended] PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB)


Several previous authors have proposed a kind of specious or subjective present moment that covers a few seconds of recent information. This article proposes a new hypothesis about the subjective present, renamed the extended present, defined not in terms of time covered but as a thematically connected information structure held in working memory and in transiently accessible form in long-term memory. The three key features of the extended present are that information in it is thematically connected, both internally and to current attended perceptual input, it is organised in a hierarchical structure, and all information in it is marked with temporal information, specifically ordinal and duration information. Temporal boundaries to the information structure are determined by hierarchical structure processing and by limits on processing and storage capacity. Supporting evidence for the importance of hierarchical structure analysis is found in the domains of music perception, speech and language processing, perception and production of goal-directed action, and exact arithmetical calculation. Temporal information marking is also discussed and a possible mechanism for representing ordinal and duration information on the time scale of the extended present is proposed. It is hypothesised that the extended present functions primarily as an informational context for making sense of current perceptual input, and as an enabler for perception and generation of complex structures and operations in language, action, music, exact calculation, and other domains.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0001-6918
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 31 August 2021
Date of Acceptance: 19 August 2021
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2021 10:00

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics