Perception

GENERAL OBJECTIVE

Psychological time is the basis of how we adapt to the environment and is the core theoretical and empirical interest of the Psychology of Perception Research Laboratory. The lab primarily takes a psychophysics approach to the study of time. This means that the researchers, using methods developed in the field of psychophysics and inspired by the laws of psychophysics, explore the mechanisms involved in judgments of duration. We are interested in what causes variability in successive judgements and the factors that can distort perceived time.

Some of the lab’s research activities explore the fundamental processes of the perception of time, while others are aimed at developing an understanding of affective and social adaptation from a temporal perspective. 

Fundamental Processes

We believe the brain has its own internal clock and are trying to understand how it works. Most of the research activities currently under way focus on the study of very short intervals (under one second), and, more specifically, seek to…

  • Identify the temporal properties of the various sensory modalities, i.e., understand the similarities and differences in temporal judgments made on the basis of the auditory, visual, and tactile senses
  • Determine how memory and categorization processes and attention mechanisms contribute to the adaptation to time
  • Understand how space is taken into account in temporal judgements when the temporal markers come from different sources
  • Understand the mechanisms behind the perception and production of rhythm and tempo

This research program on the psychophysics of time has been supported by general funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) since 1991. This funding will continue until at least 2021.

Title of funded program: Timing and time perception: Psychophysical and neuroscience investigations

Affective and Social Adaptation

A portion of the laboratory’s activities involve what is known as retrospective time judgments. These activities aim to understand what affects the speed at which time seems to pass during various everyday activities. More specifically, the projects study how various emotional states determine our impression of time.

Some of these activities are based on a developmental perspective and involve the study of children and adolescents.

This research program has been supported by general funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) between 2006 and 2013. 

Title of funded program:

Time distortions caused by emotions. 

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