The internal clock and subjective tempo: Effects of arousal and aging

To read the poster, click here.

First author: Kelly Jakubowski

Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK

Co-authors: Andrea Halpern, Lauren Stewart


Summary: Human time judgments are affected by various psychological factors. Our study tested whether factors known to influence time perception would also affect the tempo at which a familiar tune ‘sounds right’(hereafter referred to as ‘subjective tempo’). Two experiments tested the effects of 1) physiological arousal and 2) age on subjective tempo for common tunes such as Happy Birthday. It was hypothesized that 1) arousal induced via exercise would increase subjective tempo relative to a control task (anagrams)and that 2) subjective tempo would decrease with age. All participants completed a perception task, in which the tempi of tunes heard aloud were adjusted in real time, and an imagery task, in which the speed of a click track was adjusted to match the tempi of imagined tunes. Subjective tempo was positively associated with increased arousal, but was not related to age. Results are discussed in relation to pacemaker-accumulator models of timing and theories of cognitive slowing.