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Attentional resources in timing and sequencing
New England Sequencing and Timing (NEST) 13th Annual Meeting (2003)
  • Scott W. Brown, University of Southern Maine
  • Stephanie M. Merchant, University of Southern Maine
Much of the research on time and attention employs dual-task methodology to uncover patterns of interference between concurrent temporal and nontemporal tasks. Many experiments have shown that nontemporal tasks disrupt time judgments, but relatively few studies have investigated whether timing interferes with nontemporal task performance. This is an important issue, however, because a pattern of mutual interference between concurrent tasks implies that they rely on the same cognitive processes or mechanisms. The present research concerns the relation between time perception and sequence perception. We postulate that timing and sequencing draw from the same pool of attentional resources, and predict that concurrent timing and sequencing tasks should produce a pattern of mutual interference because of capacity limitations. Subjects performed timing and sequencing tasks both singly and concurrently in a series of 2-min trials. The timing task required subjects to generate a series of 5-sec temporal productions via button presses. The sequencing task involved monitoring a familiar event sequence presented on a screen and detecting omissions in that sequence. Subjects were to press a button whenever an omission occurred. An easy version of the task involved an alphabetic sequence of letters (A, B, C, ...); a difficult version involved an alphanumeric sequence of letter-number pairs (A-5, B-6, C-7,...), in which omissions could occur in either the letter or number series. Comparisons of single-task and dual-task conditions showed clear evidence of mutual interference: (a) The sequencing tasks interfered with timing by making temporal productions longer and more variable, and (b) the timing task interfered with sequencing by lengthening response times to sequence omissions and reducing perceptual sensitivity at detecting omissions. The results indicate that time perception and sequence perception are closely related, and suggest that both processes depend on a common set of attentional resources.
  • attentional resources
Publication Date
March, 2003
Citation Information
Scott W. Brown and Stephanie M. Merchant. "Attentional resources in timing and sequencing" New England Sequencing and Timing (NEST) 13th Annual Meeting (2003)
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