1. Neuroscience
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Slowing the Body slows down Time (Perception)

  1. Rose De Kock
  2. Weiwei Zhou
  3. Wilsaan M Joiner
  4. Martin Wiener  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of California, Davis, United States
  2. George Mason University, United States
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e63607 doi: 10.7554/eLife.63607


Interval timing is a fundamental component of action, and is susceptible to motor-related temporal distortions. Previous studies have shown that concurrent movement biases temporal estimates, but have primarily considered self-modulated movement only. However, real-world encounters often include situations in which movement is restricted or perturbed by environmental factors. In the following experiments, we introduced viscous movement environments to externally modulate movement and investigated the resulting effects on temporal perception. In two separate tasks, participants timed auditory intervals while moving a robotic arm that randomly applied four levels of viscosity. Results demonstrated that higher viscosity led to shorter perceived durations. Using a drift-diffusion model and a Bayesian observer model, we confirmed these biasing effects arose from perceptual mechanisms, instead of biases in decision making. These findings suggest that environmental perturbations are an important factor in movement-related temporal distortions, and enhance the current understanding of the interactions of motor activity and cognitive processes.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Rose De Kock

    Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis, Davis, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Weiwei Zhou

    Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, University of California, Davis, Davis, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Wilsaan M Joiner

    Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, University of California, Davis, Davis, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Martin Wiener

    Psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-5963-5439


National Science Foundation (1849067)

  • Martin Wiener

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: Informed consent was obtained from all subjects. All protocols were approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of California, Davis (IRB Protocol # 1336438-6)

Reviewing Editor

  1. Hugo Merchant, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico

Publication history

  1. Received: September 30, 2020
  2. Accepted: April 7, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: April 8, 2021 (version 1)


© 2021, De Kock et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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