Journal article Open Access

Attention and schema violations of real world scenes differentially modulate time perception

Tachmatzidou, Ourania; Vatakis, argiro

In the real world, object arrangement follows a number of rules. Some of the rules pertain to the spatial relations between objects and scenes (i.e., syntactic rules) and others about the contextual relations (i.e., semantic rules). Research has shown that violation of semantic rules influences interval timing with the duration of scenes containing such violations to be overestimated as compared to scenes with no violations. However, no study has yet investigated whether both semantic and syntactic violations can affect timing in the same way. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the effect of scene violations on timing is due to attentional or other cognitive accounts. Using an oddball paradigm and real-world scenes with or without semantic and syntactic violations, we conducted two experiments on whether time dilation will be obtained in the presence of any type of scene violation and the role of attention in any such effect. Our results from Experiment 1 showed that time dilation indeed occurred in the presence of syntactic violations, while time compression was observed for semantic violations. In Experiment 2, we further investigated whether these estimations were driven by attentional accounts, by utilizing a contrast manipulation of the target objects. The results showed that an increased contrast led to duration overestimation for both semantic and syntactic oddballs. Together, our results indicate that scene violations differentially affect timing due to violation processing differences and, moreover, their effect on timing seems to be sensitive to attentional manipulations such as target contrast.

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