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One clock? Mechanisms of explicit and implicit timing

Time is an important dimension of subjective experience, yet we know quite little about how the human senses encode time. A distinction has to be drawn between explicit time perception and implicit timing, currently subject to two separate research fields. Time perception refers to situations in which we overtly estimate a time interval, while implicit timing occurs even when no explicit timing is required.

An interesting and important question is whether these two seemingly different timing processes rely on (at least partially) shared versus separate cognitive and neural mechanisms. Studying the relationships between both processes could reveal new insights about more general timing mechanism.

During the first part of the talk, I will present work on explicit timing and its distortion by external factors, providing first hints for partially shared mechanisms between explicit and implicit timing.

During the second part, I will present a current project in which we study whether temporal regularities from the environment are used to form temporal predictions even in strictly implicit timing scenarios. Using electroencephalography (EEG), we studied the neural mechanisms of temporally predictive processing in an auditory foreperiod paradigm and used a forward encoding model to of temporal hazard to quantify implicit temporal predictability from EEG data. Our data show that even if participants are unaware of temporal regularities in their environment, these are used to form temporal predictions.