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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Context effects in temporal differentiation: Some data and a model

  • Author(s): Carvalho, Marilia Pinheiro de
  • Machado, Armando
  • Vasconcelos, Marco
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

We examined whether temporal context influences how animals produce a time interval. Six pigeons pecked one key to start an interval and then another key to end the interval. Reinforcement followed whenever the interval duration fell within a range of values signaled by the keylight colors. During Phase 1, keylight colors S1 and L1, intermixed across trials, signaled the ranges (0.5-1.5 s) and (1.5- 4.5 s), respectively. During Phase 2, colors S2 and L2 signaled the ranges (1.5-4.5 s) and (4.5-13.5 s), respectively. We asked whether the intervals produced in the presence of L1 and S2, stimuli signalling the same range, varied with their temporal context, short in Phase 1, long in Phase 2. The results showed that a) the intervals produced in the presence of the different keylight colors accorded with the main properties of temporal differentiation, including Weber’s law, b) the L1 intervals had slightly higher means than the S2 intervals, a weak contrast effect, c) the L1 intervals also had higher variability than the S2 intervals. An extension of the learning-to-time model to temporal differentiation tasks reproduced some of the major features of the data but left unanswered how context might change the model parameters.

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