The Effects of Movement Parameters on Time Perception

Keri Anne Gladhill

Advisor: Martin Wiener, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Wilsaan Joiner, James Thompson

Peterson Hall, #1113
April 17, 2023, 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM


Mobile organisms must be capable of deciding both where and when to move in order to keep up with a changing environment; therefore, a strong sense of time is necessary, otherwise, we would fail in many of our movement goals. Despite this intrinsic link between movement and timing, only recently has research begun to investigate the interaction. Two primary effects that have been observed include: movements biasing time estimates (i.e., affecting accuracy) as well as making time estimates more precise. The goal of this dissertation is to review this literature, discuss a Bayesian cue combination framework to explain these effects, and discuss the experiments I have conducted to test the framework.

The experiments herein include: a motor timing task comparing the effects of movement vs non-movement with and without feedback (Exp. 1 & 2), a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) study on the role of the supplementary motor area (SMA) in transforming temporal information (Exp. 3), and a perceptual timing task investigating the effect of noisy movement on time perception with both visual and auditory modalities (Exp. 4 & 5). Together, the results of these studies support the Bayesian cue combination framework, in that: movement improves the precision of time perception not only in perceptual timing tasks but also motor timing tasks (Exp. 1 & 2), stimulating the SMA appears to disrupt the transformation of temporal information (Exp. 3), and when movement becomes unreliable or noisy there is no longer an improvement in precision of time perception (Exp. 4 & 5).

Although there is support for the proposed framework, more studies (i.e., fMRI, TMS, EEG, etc.) need to be conducted in order to better understand where and how this may be instantiated in the brain; however, this work provides a starting point to better understanding the intrinsic connection between time and movement.