Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Experiencing our causality warps our sense of time.

Buehner et al. make the interesting observation that two events we know to be causally related are experienced as closer in time than similar unrelated events.  Thus, expectation warps our sense of time. :
According to widely held views in cognitive science harking back to David Hume, causality cannot be perceived directly, but instead is inferred from patterns of sensory experience, and the quality of these inferences is determined by perceivable quantities such as contingency and contiguity. We report results that suggest a reversal of Hume's conjecture: People's sense of time is warped by the experience of causality. In a stimulus-anticipation task, participants' response behavior reflected a shortened experience of time in the case of target stimuli participants themselves had generated, relative to equidistant, equally predictable stimuli they had not caused. These findings suggest that causality in the mind leads to temporal binding of cause and effect, and extend and generalize beyond earlier claims of intentional binding between action and outcome.

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