Sensory modality and time perception in children and adults.
This experiment investigated the effect of signal modality on time perception in 5- and 8-year-old children as well as young adults using a duration bisection task in which auditory and visual signals were presented in the same test session and shared common anchor durations. Durations were judged shorter for visual than for auditory signals by all age groups. However, the magnitude of this modality difference was larger in the children than in the adults. Sensitivity to time was also observed to increase with age for both modalities. Taken together, these two observations suggest that the greater modality effect on duration judgments for the children, for whom attentional abilities are considered limited, is the result of visual signals requiring more attentional resources than are needed for the processing of auditory signals. Within the framework of the information-processing model of Scalar Timing Theory, these effects are consistent with a developmental difference in the operation of the "attentional switch" used to transfer pulses from the pacemaker into the accumulator. Specifically, although timing is more automatic for auditory than visual signals in both children and young adults, children have greater difficulty in keeping the switch in the closed state during the timing of visual signals.
Droit-Volet, S; Meck, WH; Penney, TB
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