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The three-second 'subjective present': a critical review and a new proposal

White, P. A. 2017. The three-second 'subjective present': a critical review and a new proposal. Psychological Bulletin 143 (7) , pp. 735-756. 10.1037/bul0000104

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It has been argued that there is a 'subjective present' or 'experienced moment' of about three seconds in duration, involving automatic binding of events into perceptual units on that time scale. Research on topics that have been taken as relevant to this proposal is reviewed. The topics include accuracy in reproduction of stimulus durations, synchronization of behaviour with a regular beat, mental rhythmization of a regular beat, time units in behaviour, segmentation of observed behaviour into meaningful units, time scale of reversals of perception with bistable ambiguous figures, time scale of inhibition of return in visual search, and EEG responses to deviant stimuli in series of repeating stimuli. Most of the research findings were not consistent with the three-second window hypothesis. The small amount of supportive evidence is better interpreted as effects of specific processing mechanisms, not as showing general temporal integration. The evidence shows that temporal integration occurs on multiple time scales and no particular duration is special, and that windows of temporal integration are defined in terms of information density, not in terms of duration. The subjective present is constructed through local temporal integration on multiple time scales, further integrated into a coherent global representation of what is going on.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: subjective present; experienced moment; three-second moment; temporal integration; temporal window
Additional Information: 'This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.'
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 0033-2909
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 February 2017
Date of Acceptance: 20 February 2017
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2020 06:01

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