Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Charles Collyer

Abstract

In order to investigate human time sense individual differences in timing were studied in a sample of 39 healthy adults at rest. Fast Muscular Relaxation Time, Preferred Muscular Relaxation Time, Critical Flicker Fusion Threshold, Continuation Tapping, and Simple and Choice Reaction Times were examined with the aim of determining both linear and non-linear relationships among the measures. Several significant linear relationships among the variables were obtained. Subjects with higher Critical Flicker Fusion threshold exhibited significantly less overall variability in timing, (p < 0. 001) and showed a slower increase in variability with increasing interstimulus interval. The Simple Reaction Time was positively correlated with the Fast Relaxation time (p < 0.05). The finding of a positive association between Choice Reaction time and Simple Reaction time (p < 0.001) was replicated in the present research. Subjects whose scores were located in the middle of the Preferred Muscular Relaxation Time (PMRT) distribution of scores exhibited less overall variability in Continuation Tapping (p < 0.05) in comparison with subjects who were located at both ends of the PMRT distribution of scores. The effect was attributed to the mechanism of a biological clock.

Some evidence for a relationship between the continuation tapping task and the single-response tasks was found. There was a tendency for Fast Muscular Relaxation Time, Preferred Muscular Relaxation Time, and Choice Reaction Time, to fall at time intervals where there are local maxima or minima in the function relating bias in continuation tapping to interstimulus interval. Overall, these relationships support the theory of multiple oscillators and the pattern of data suggests a rather strong possibility that the studied temporal characteristics – are regulated by a common oscillatory timing mechanism.

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