A view from nowhen on time perception experiments
Jorge Luis Borges once called it a dark property of time, that time can be perceived only in one direction, flowing from the past towards the future. How trivial this notion might appear with respect to the perception of time, it stands in contrast to the physics of time: physical laws are time-reversal invariant and do not imply a specific direction of time.
This difference has some important consequences for psychophysics – defined as the study of the relations between physical and psychological reality. In the past years I argued that in time perception research we are facing a very unique methodological constraint: We do not possess complete control over the experimental stimuli. We are so familiar with this time-specific limitation that it is often overseen, but, especially because we cannot overcome it, it is important to be aware of it when studying the psychophysics of time.
In my studies, I show how some paradoxical findings in time perception research can be explained by a consideration of the theoretical consequences of a reversed time flow.
Riemer, M., & Wolbers, T. (2018). Negative errors in time reproduction tasks. Psychological Research. [link]
Riemer, M. (2015). Psychophysics and the anisotropy of time. Consciousness & Cognition, 38: 191-197. [link]
Riemer, M., Trojan, J., Kleinböhl, D., & Hölzl, R. (2012). A ’view from nowhen’ on time perception experiments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 38 (5): 1118-1124. [link]