Attention and Duration

A number of studies have suggested that the measurement of intervals longer than 1 sec requires cognitively controlled and attended processing, while measurement of intervals in the milliseconds range does not require direct attention. These include works showing that active processing in working memory is only required during the timing of longer intervals (Fortin, this volume; Fortin and Breton, 1995; Fortin et al., 1993; Rammsayer and Lima, 1991); temporal processing in the milliseconds range is unaffected by level of arousal (Rammsayer, 1989; Rammsayer and Vogel, 1992), but does depend on sensory processes (Rammsayer and Lima, 1991); and pharmacological agents, such as LSD and mescaline, know to interfere with cognitive processing, disrupting the timing of multiple seconds but not of milliseconds (Mitri-ani et al., 1977). On the basis of these findings, at least two authors (Mitriani et al., 1977; Rammsayer, 1999) have separately suggested that intervals in the milliseconds range are measured more or less automatically, while intervals in the multiseconds range require active processing under direct cognitive control.

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