Recent studies in the field of task switching have shown that humans can base expectancies for tasks on temporal cues. When tasks are predictable based on the duration of the preceding pre-target interval, humans implicitly adapt to this predictability, indicated by better performance in trials with validly compared to invalidly predicted tasks. Yet, it is not clear which internal timing mechanisms are involved. Previous research has suggested that intervals from the sub- and supra-second range are processed by distinct cognitive timing systems. As earlier studies on temporally predictable task switching have used predictive intervals stemming from both ranges, it was not yet clear if the time-based expectancy effect was driven by just one of the two internal timing systems. The present study used clearly sub-second intervals (10 ms and 500 ms) in Experiment 1, while clearly supra-second intervals (1500 ms and 3000 ms) were used in Experiment 2. Substantial adaptation effects were observed in both experiments, showing that sub- as well as supra-second timing systems are involved in time-based expectancies for tasks. The present findings offer important implications for our theoretical understanding of the internal timing mechanisms involved in time-based task expectancy.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Concerning time-based expectancy in the context of ordered task sequences, it should be noted that a recent study (Mittelstädt, Kiesel, Fischer, Rieger and Thomaschke, in revision) investigated time-based expectancy in a dual-task paradigm. The authors found that the backward-compatibility effect between tasks was reduced when incompatible dual-task trials were predicted by one of two possible FPs with a high degree of probability.
Altmann, E. M. (2005). Repetition priming in task switching: Do the benefits dissipate? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12, 535–540.
Aufschnaiter, S., Kiesel, A., Dreisbach, G., Wenke, D., & Thomaschke, R. (2018a). Time-based expectancy in temporally structured task switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 44(6), 856–870.
Aufschnaiter, S., Kiesel, A., & Thomaschke, R. (2018b). Transfer of time-based task expectancy across different timing environments. Psychological Research, 82(1), 230–243.
Buonomano, D. V. (2007). The biology of time across different scales. Nature Chemical Biology, 3(10), 594–597.
Buonomano, D. V. (2014). The neural mechanisms of timing on short timescales. In V. Arstila, & D. Lloyd (Ed.), Subjective time: The philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience of temporality (pp. 329–342). Cambridge: MIT.
Bush, L. K., Hess, U., & Wolford, G. (1993). Transformations for within-subject designs: A Monte Carlo investigation. Psychological Bulletin, 113(3), 566–579.
Creelman, C. D. (1962). Human discrimination of auditory duration. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 34(5), 582–593.
De Jong, R. (2000). An intention-activation account of residual switch costs. In S. Monsell & J. Driver (Eds.), Control of cognitive processes: Attention and performance XVIII (pp. 357–376). Cambridge: MIT.
Dehaene, S., Bossini, S., & Giraux, P. (1993). The mental representation of parity and number magnitude. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 122(3), 371–396.
Dreisbach, G., Haider, H., & Kluwe, R. H. (2002). Preparatory processes in the Task-Switching paradigm: Evidence from the use of probability cues. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 28, 468–483.
Gooch, C. M., Wiener, M., Hamilton, A. C., & Coslett, H. (2011). Temporal discrimination of sub-and suprasecond time intervals: A voxel-based lesion mapping analysis. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 5, 59.
Grondin, S. (2010). Timing and time perception: A review of recent behavioral and neuroscience findings and theoretical directions. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72(3), 561–582.
Hayashi, M. J., Kantele, M., Walsh, V., Carlson, S., & Kanai, R. (2014). Dissociable neuroanatomical correlates of subsecond and suprasecond time perception. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(8), 1685–1693.
Hohle, R. H. (1965). Inferred components of reaction times as functions of foreperiod duration. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69(4), 382–386.
Karmarkar, U. R., & Buonomano, D. V. (2007). Timing in the absence of clocks: Encoding time in neural network states. Neuron, 53(3), 427–438.
Kiesel, A., Steinhauser, M., Wendt, M., Falkenstein, M., Jost, K., Philipp, A. M., & Koch, I. (2010). Control and interference in task switching—A review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(5), 849–874.
Klemmer, E. T. (1956). Time uncertainty in simple reaction time. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 51(3), 179–184.
Koch, I. (2001). Automatic and intentional activation of task sets. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 27, 1474–1486.
Koch, I. (2003). The role of external cues for endogenous advance reconfiguration in task switching. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 10, 488–492.
Koch, I. (2005). Sequential task predictability in task switching. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12, 107–112.
Koch, I., Poljac, E., Müller, H., & Kiesel, A. (2018). Cognitive structure, flexibility, and plasticity in human multitasking—An integrative review of dual-task and task-switching research. Psychological Bulletin, 144, 557–583.
Lee, M. D., & Wagenmakers, E. J. (2013). Bayesian data analysis for cognitive science: A practical course. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lewis, P. A., & Miall, R. C. (2003a). Brain activation patterns during measurement of sub-and supra-second intervals. Neuropsychologia, 41(12), 1583–1592.
Lewis, P. A., & Miall, R. C. (2003b). Distinct systems for automatic and cognitively controlled time measurement: Evidence from neuroimaging. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 13(2), 250–255.
Lewis, P. A., & Miall, R. C. (2006). A right hemispheric prefrontal system for cognitive time measurement. Behavioural Processes, 71(2–3), 226–234.
Los, S. A., & Agter, F. (2005). Reweighting sequential effects across different distributions of foreperiods: Segregating elementary contributions to nonspecific preparation. Perception and Psychophysics, 67(7), 1161–1170.
Los, S. A., & Horoufchin, H. (2011). Dissociative patterns of foreperiod effects in temporal discrimination and reaction time tasks. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64(5), 1009–1020.
Los, S. A., Knol, D. L., & Boers, R. M. (2001). The foreperiod effect revisited: Conditioning as a basis for nonspecific preparation. Acta Psychologica, 106, 121–145.
Los, S. A., & Schut, M. L. (2008). The effective time course of preparation. Cognitive Psychology, 57(1), 20–55.
Machado, A. (1997). Learning the temporal dynamics of behavior. Psychological Review, 104, 241–265.
Merchant, H., & de Lafuente, V. (2014). Introduction to the neurobiology of interval timing. In H. Merchant & V. de Lafuente (Eds.), Neurobiology of interval timing (pp. 33–47). New York: Springer.
Merchant, H., Harrington, D. L., & Meck, W. H. (2013). Neural basis of the perception and estimation of time. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 36, 313–336.
Mittelstädt, V., Kiesel, A., Fischer, R., Rieger, T., & Thomaschke, R. (in revision). Temporal predictability of between-task interference in dual-tasking. Foreperiods as contextual cues modulate the backward compatibility effect.
Näätänen, R., Muranen, V., & Merisalo, A. (1974). Timing of expectancy peak in simple reaction time situation. Acta Psychologica, 38(6), 461–470.
Nieuwenhuis, S., & Monsell, S. (2002). Residual costs in task switching: Testing the failure-to-engage hypothesis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 86–92.
Rammsayer, T. (2008). Neuropharmalogical approaches to human timing. In S. Grondin (Ed.), Psychology of time (pp. 295–320). Bingley: Emerald.
Rammsayer, T. (2009). Effects of pharmacologically induced dopamine-receptor stimulation on human temporal information processing. NeuroQuantology, 7(1), 103–113.
Rammsayer, T., & Ulrich, R. (2001). Counting models of temporal discrimination. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8(2), 270–277.
Rammsayer, T., & Ulrich, R. (2005). No evidence for qualitative differences in the processing of short and long temporal intervals. Acta Psychologica, 120(2), 141–171.
Rammsayer, T. H., & Lima, S. D. (1991). Duration discrimination of filled and empty auditory intervals: Cognitive and perceptual factors. Perception & Psychophysics, 50(6), 565–574.
Rammsayer, T. H., & Troche, S. J. (2014). Elucidating the internal structure of psychophysical timing performance in the sub-second and second range by utilizing confirmatory factor analysis. In H. Merchant & V. de Lafuente (Eds.), Neurobiology of interval timing (pp. 33–47). New York: Springer.
Rieth, C. A., & Huber, D. E. (2013). Implicit learning of spatiotemporal contingencies in spatial cueing. Journal of experimental psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 39(4), 1165–1180.
Roberts, F., & Francis, A. L. (2013). Identifying a temporal threshold of tolerance for silent gaps after requests. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133(6), 471–477.
Roberts, F., Margutti, P., & Takano, S. (2011). Judgments concerning the valence of inter-turn silence across speakers of American English, Italian, and Japanese. Discourse Processes, 48(5), 331–354.
Rogers, R. D., & Monsell, S. (1995). Costs of a predictable switch between simple cognitive tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 124, 207–231.
Schneider, D. W., & Logan, G. D. (2006). Hierarchical control of cognitive processes: Switching tasks in sequences. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135(4), 623–640.
Schröter, H., Birngruber, T., Bratzke, D., Miller, J., & Ulrich, R. (2015). Task predictability influences the variable foreperiod effect: Evidence of task-specific temporal preparation. Psychological Research, 79(2), 230–237.
Smith, J. B. (1974). Effects of response rate, reinforcement frequency, and the duration of a stimulus preceding response-independent food. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 21(2), 215–221.
Steinborn, M. B., & Langner, R. (2011). Distraction by irrelevant sound during foreperiods selectively impairs temporal preparation. Acta Psychologica, 136(3), 405–418.
Steinborn, M. B., & Langner, R. (2012). Arousal modulates temporal preparation under increased time uncertainty: Evidence from higher-order sequential foreperiod effects. Acta Psychologica, 139(1), 65–76.
Steinborn, M. B., Langner, R., & Huestegge, L. (2017). Mobilizing cognition for speeded action: Try-harder instructions promote motivated readiness in the constant-foreperiod paradigm. Psychological research, 81(6), 1135–1151.
Steinborn, M. B., Rolke, B., Bratzke, D., & Ulrich, R. (2008). Sequential effects within a short foreperiod context: Evidence for the conditioning account of temporal preparation. Acta Psychologica, 129(2), 297–307.
Steinborn, M. B., Rolke, B., Bratzke, D., & Ulrich, R. (2009). Dynamic adjustment of temporal preparation: Shifting warning signal modality attenuates the sequential foreperiod effect. Acta Psychologica, 132(1), 40–47.
Steinborn, M. B., Rolke, B., Bratzke, D., & Ulrich, R. (2010). The effect of a cross-trial shift of auditory warning signals on the sequential foreperiod effect. Acta Psychologica, 134(1), 94–104.
Thomaschke, R., & Dreisbach, G. (2013). Temporal predictability facilitates action, not perception. Psychological Science, 24(7), 1335–1340.
Thomaschke, R., & Dreisbach, G. (2015). The time-event correlation effect is due to temporal expectancy, not to partial transition costs. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41(1), 196–218.
Thomaschke, R., Hoffmann, J., Haering, C., & Kiesel, A. (2016). Time-based expectancy for task relevant stimulus features. Timing & Time Perception, 4, 248–270.
Thomaschke, R., Kiesel, A., & Hoffmann, J. (2011). Response specific temporal expectancy: Evidence from a variable foreperiod paradigm. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 73, 2309–2322.
Thomaschke, R., Kunchulia, M., & Dreisbach, G. (2015). Time-based event expectations employ relative, not absolute, representations of time. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22, 890–895.
Thomaschke, R., Wagener, A., Kiesel, A., & Hoffmann, J. (2011a). The scope and precision of specific temporal expectancy: Evidence from a variable foreperiod paradigm. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 73, 953–964.
Thomaschke, R., Wagener, A., Kiesel, A., & Hoffmann, J. (2011b). The specificity of temporal expectancy: Evidence from a variable foreperiod paradigm. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64, 2289–2300.
Treisman, M. (1963). Temporal discrimination and the indifference interval: Implications for a model of the “internal clock”. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 77(13), 1–31.
Volberg, G., & Thomaschke, R. (2017). Time-based expectations entail preparatory motor activity. Cortex, 92, 261–270.
Wagener, A., & Hoffmann, J. (2010). Temporal cueing of target-identity and target-location. Experimental Psychology, 57(6), 436–445.
Wendt, M., & Kiesel, A. (2011). Conflict adaptation in time: Foreperiods as contextual cues for attentional adjustment. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18(5), 910–916.
Wiener, M., Lohoff, F. W., & Coslett, H. B. (2011). Double dissociation of dopamine genes and timing in humans. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(10), 2811–2821.
Wiener, M., Turkeltaub, P., & Coslett, H. B. (2010). The image of time: A voxel-wise meta-analysis. Neuroimage, 49(2), 1728–1740.
Wood, G., Willmes, K., Nuerk, H.-C., & Fischer, M. H. (2008). On the cognitive link between space and number: A meta-analysis of the SNARC effect. Psychology Science, 50(4), 489–525.
This research was supported by a grant within the Priority Program, SPP 1772 from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), Grant no TH 1554/3-1. We thank Sander Los and Michael Steinborn for many helpful comments on an earlier version of the article. Raw data of the reported experiments are available via the Open Science Framework: https://osf.io/z8mvj/, https://doi.org/10.17605/osf.io/z8mvj.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Research involving human and animal participants
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Aufschnaiter, S., Kiesel, A. & Thomaschke, R. Humans derive task expectancies from sub-second and supra-second interval durations. Psychological Research 84, 1333–1345 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01155-9