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Voluntary and involuntary movements widen the window of subjective simultaneity

Arikan, B.E.; van Kemenade, B.M.; Straube, B.; Harris, L.R.; Kircher, T.

Forming a coherent percept of an event requires different sensory inputs originating from the event to be bound. Perceiving synchrony aids in binding of these inputs. In two experiments, we investigated how voluntary movements influence the perception of simultaneity, by measuring simultaneity judgments for an audiovisual (AV) stimulus pair triggered by a voluntary button press. In Experiment 1, we manipulated contiguity between the action and its consequences by introducing delays between the button press and the AV stimulus pair. We found a widened window of subjective simultaneity (WSS) when the action-feedback relationship was time contiguous. Introducing a delay narrowed the WSS, suggesting that the wider WSS around the time of an action might facilitate perception of simultaneity. In Experiment 2, we introduced an involuntary condition using an externally-controlled button to assess the influence of action-related predictive processes on simultaneity judgments. We found a widened WSS around the action time, regardless of movement type, supporting the influence of causal relations in the perception of synchrony. Interestingly, the slopes of the psychometric functions in the voluntary condition were significantly steeper than the slopes in the involuntary condition, suggesting a role of action-related predictive mechanisms in making simultaneity judgments more precise. 

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