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Time perception and sense of touch: a new connection

09 February 2021
A new theory shows how we sense the passage of time as we process sensory stimuli

The percept of time relates to the sense of touch. A new SISSA study “A sensory integration account for time perception” published in PLOS Computational Biology uncovers this connection. “The challenge to neuroscience posed by the sense of time lies, first and foremost, in the fact there do not exist dedicated receptors – the passage of time is a sensory experience constructed without sensors,” notes Mathew Diamond, director of the Tactile Perception and Learning Lab.

The lead author of the study, SISSA PhD student Alessandro Toso, explains how the team (including also Arash Fassihi, Luciano Paz and Francesca Pulecchi as co-authors) approached the problem: “We trained both humans and rats to compare the durations of two tactile vibrations. The main clue leading to the new theory is that the perceived duration of a vibration increases not only in relation to actual elapsed time but also in relation to the intensity of the vibration. In other words, subjects (of both species) feel that a stronger vibration lasts longer.”

Image courtesy of: chenspec, Pixabay

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