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Dr Vincent Van De Ven. Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Time plays an important role in many aspects of perception, action and cognition, including attention and memory. However, little is known about how time is represented in memory and how it influences memory of sensory (visual) events. In the current study, we investigated if memory of time facilitates retrieval of visual events. Forty-one participants completed a time paired associate task (TPAT). Participants learnt cue-time-target associations, in which presentation of a cue-target pair was systematically associated to one of two time intervals of 500 or 2000 msec. Importantly, participants were never instructed about the time associations in cue-target pairs. During subsequent testing in a cued-recall task, participants judged if a probe matched the target that was predicted by the preceding cue. Importantly, cue-target pairs were shown with the associated time interval in half of the trials, and with the not-associated interval in the remaining half of the trials. Analysis of responses during testing focused on a full-factorial interaction effect between the time intervals during learning and during testing. Results showed a highly significant interaction effect of accuracy, that is, accuracy increased if the time interval during testing matched the interval during learning. Reaction times did not show this interaction effect. To further investigate if our results did not suffer from a speed-accuracy trade-off that depended on expected time intervals, we used a diffusion model, which combines accuracy and reaction times of correctly responded trials. We found a significant interaction for drift rate, which is a latent parameter that relies on quality of evidence in making a decision, but not for boundary separation (related to response bias) or nondecision time (delayed responding not associated to decision making). In all, these findings indicate that participants retrieved cue-target-dependent time information from memory. A control experiment further showed that participants had no explicit knowledge about the cue-time-target associations. We suggest that memory of event-specific elapsed time facilitates retrieval of the visual events. I will discuss our results in the context of other findings about time cognition.

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