Conclusion

In conclusion, the results of our different studies on interval timing in children suggest that, whatever their age, children are able to estimate duration. In accordance with the scalar timing theory, this fundamental temporal competence is possible because they possess, as animals and human adults do, a functional internal clock. Clear evidence for the early functionality of this clock comes from our repetitive stimulation studies designed to speed up the clock. However, despite an early temporal competence, the sensitivity for duration increases with age in the temporal bisection and temporal generalization tasks. Our developmental version of scalar timing theory (Gibbon et al., 1984) suggests that this is due to a greater number of responses emitted at random by younger children and to a greater variability in their memory representation of durations. Some studies have suggested that this greater variability in the memory representation of duration in young children can be explained both by a more rapid forgetting of durations and by a poorer encoding of durations related to their limited attentional capacity. Future research will be aimed at understanding both the psychological and neurobiological processes involved in enhancing the sensitivity to time as a function of early development.

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