Time contracts and temporal precision declines when the mind wanders

Terhune, Devin Blair; Croucher, Madeleine; Marcusson - Clavertz, David and Macdonald, James S. P.. 2017. Time contracts and temporal precision declines when the mind wanders. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43(11), pp. 1864-1871. ISSN 0096-1523 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Our perception of time varies considerably from moment to moment but how this variability relates to endogenous fluctuations in attentional states remains poorly understood. Here we tested the hypothesis that perceptual decoupling during mind wandering would distort interval timing. In two studies with different visual interval timing paradigms, we found that mind wandering states were characterized by underestimation of intervals and a decline in temporal discrimination. Further analyses suggested that temporal contraction during mind wandering, but not a decline in temporal discrimination, could be attributed in part to attentional lapses. These results highlight the role of transient fluctuations in attentional states in intra-individual variability in time perception and have implications for the behavioral markers, and costs and benefits, of mind wandering.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):



attention; interval timing; metacognition; mind wandering; oddball; predictive coding

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Timing, Awareness, and Suggestion Lab


19 May 2017Accepted
1 November 2017Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 May 2017 13:58

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:27

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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