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Research Article

On the Structure of the Temporal Sensory System


Michel Treisman

Oxford OX1 3UD, GB
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Evidence is reviewed that favours the hypothesis that temporal performance depends on a temporal sensory system based on a biological source of temporal information. A model for the pacemaker, initially proposed by Treisman (1963) and elaborated by Treisman, Faulkner, Naish and Brogan (1990), predicts that if regular stimulus pulses (such as auditory clicks) are presented at suitable rates during intervals whose durations are estimated by a subject, the pulses may perturb the frequency at which the subject’s temporal oscillator runs and so perturb time estimation, resulting in a characteristic pattern of interference. Such interference patterns have been found for time estimation when subjects were exposed to auditory clicks, or visual flicker, and for the timing of movement. Records of the electroencephalogram were taken while subjects estimated time durations accompanied by trains of auditory clicks. Analyses provide evidence for the presence in the EEG of click-sensitive oscillations. Implications of this finding for the organization of an underlying temporal sensory system are discussed.
How to Cite: Treisman, M., 1993. On the Structure of the Temporal Sensory System. Psychologica Belgica, 33(2), pp.271–283. DOI:
Published on 01 Jan 1993.
Peer Reviewed


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