Skip to main content
Automaticity and interference in concurrent temporal and nontemporal processing
XI Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (1999)
  • Scott W. Brown, University of Southern Maine
  • Elizabeth D. Bennett, University of Southern Maine
Two experiments examined the interference effect in timing, in which a concurrent nontemporal task disrupts timing by making time judgments more variable and/or inaccurate. This effect can be explained by attentional allocation, such that the more resources devoted to nontemporal demands, the fewer resources available for timekeeping. In previous research, Brown (1998) found that practice on a nontemporal task attenuated the interference effect in timing. Practice leads to automaticity, a reduction in the amount of processing resources needed to perform a task. The present research was designed to replicate and extend the previous results. Subjects generated a series of 5-s temporal productions under control (timing only) and experimental (timing plus a nontemporal task) conditions. The nontemporal tasks were pursuit rotor tracking (Experiment 1), and mirror-reversed reading (Experiment 2). We employed a pretest-practiceposttest paradigm, with the practice sessions devoted to performance of the nontemporal task. Pretest-posttest comparisons showed that practice reduced interference in timing in both experiments. Dual-task probe trials were given during the practice sessions to trace the time course of the improvement in timing. The results showed that interference in timing was reduced with even small amounts of practice. The findings demonstrate that timing is a cognitive process that is very sensitive to changes in the allocation of attentional resources.
  • automaticity,
  • interference
Publication Date
September, 1999
In G.De Vooght & V. Franssen (chairs) Estimating duration: Directions for future research)
Citation Information
Scott W. Brown and Elizabeth D. Bennett. "Automaticity and interference in concurrent temporal and nontemporal processing" XI Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (1999)
Available at: