The role of action intentionality and effector in the subjective expansion of temporal duration after saccadic eye movements

David Melcher, Devpriya Kumar, Narayanan Srinivasan

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Visual perception is based on periods of stable fixation separated by saccadic eye movements. Although naive perception seems stable (in space) and continuous (in time), laboratory studies have demonstrated that events presented around the time of saccades are misperceived spatially and temporally. Saccadic chronostasis, the “stopped clock illusion”, represents one such temporal distortion in which the movement of the clock hand after the saccade is perceived as lasting longer than usual. Multiple explanations for chronostasis have been proposed including action-backdating, temporal binding of the action towards the moment of its effect (“intentional binding”) and post-saccadic temporal dilation. The current study aimed to resolve this debate by using different types of action (keypress vs saccade) and varying the intentionality of the action. We measured both perceived onset of the motor action and perceived onset of an auditory tone presented at different delays after the keypress/saccade. The results showed intentional binding for the keypress action, with perceived motor onset shifted forwards in time and the time of the tone shifted backwards. Saccades resulted in the opposite pattern, showing temporal expansion rather than compression, especially with cued saccades. The temporal illusion was modulated by intentionality of the movement. Our findings suggest that saccadic chronostasis is not solely dependent on a backward shift in perceived saccade onset, but instead reflects a temporal dilation. This percept of an effectively “longer” period at the beginning of a new fixation may reflect the pattern of suppressed, and then enhanced, visual processing around the time of saccades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16922
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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