Timing, resources, and interference: attentional modulation of time perception


Timing, resources, and interference: attentional modulation of time perception


Document Type

Book Chapter


Chapter 8 in Attention and Time, edited by Anna C. Nobre and Jennifer T. Coull.

Chapter Abstract:

This chapter describes a research that investigated the attentional modulation of time perception. It explains that this research involved various techniques for modifying attention to time including manipulations of temporal awareness and variations in the nature of the distractor tasks. All of the different approaches produced a consistent set of findings which indicate that interval timing requires attentional resources and that time judgement performance is influenced strongly by the allocation of those resources.

More about the book:

Our ability to attend selectively to our surroundings is crucial if we are to negotiate the world around us in an efficient manner. Several aspects of the temporal dimension turn out to be critical in determining how we can put together and select the events that are important to us as they themselves unfold over time. For example, we often miss events that happen while we are occupied perceiving or responding to another stimulus. On the other hand, temporal regularity between events can also greatly improve our perception. In addition, our perception of the passage of time itself can also be distorted while we are performing actions or paying attention to different aspects of the environment. This interplay between ‘attention’ and ‘time’ has been relatively neglected in the psychology and neuroscience literatures until very recently. This book addresses this foundational topic, bringing together several hitherto fragmented findings into a cohesive field of enquiry. It contains thirty-one critical-review chapters, organised into three stand-alone, yet extensively cross-referenced, themed sections. Each section focuses on distinct ways in which attention and time influence one another. These sections, each encompassing a range of methodologies from classical cognitive psychology to single-cell neurophysiology, provide functionally unifying frameworks to help guide through the many various experimental and theoretical approaches adopted. Section 1 considers variations of attention across time; Section 2 describes several types of temporal illusion; and Section 3 examines how attention can be directed in time.



Publication Date



Oxford Scholarship Online


temporal dimension, perception, stimulus, temporal regularity, attention, time, cognitive psychology, single-cell neurophysiology, temporal illusion

Timing, resources, and interference: attentional modulation of time perception