Psychological Science 2017, 40(6) 1316-1321 DOI:     ISSN: 0412-1961 CN: 21-1139/TG

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Perceptive duration judgment
Central executive sub-function
LIU Xin-Yuan
LI Ming-Xin
Article by Liu,X.Y
Article by Li,M.X
Article by Zhang,Z.J

The Role of Central Executive Sub-functions in Prospective Duration Judgment


Time is a fundamental property of matter. Duration judgment is of great significance for human beings to survive and adapt to environments. Extended resource allocation model of duration judgment considers that duration judgment primarily depends on attentional and working memory resources. The demonstration bidirectional interference effect between duration judgment and non-temporal task that associated with executive processes in dual-task paradigm of time and non-time provide support for that duration judgment is affected by central executive function. Miyake et al. (2002) identified three relatively independent sub-functions of central executive function, which they termed “switching”, “inhibition” and “updating”. Switching involves shifting attention back and forth between multiple tasks or cognitive operations. Inhibition is a basic executive control process that includes suppressing dominant, automatic responses and resisting distractions. Updating refers to updating information in working memory contents by people as needed. When appropriate, information that is no longer current or relevant is replaced with newer information. Researches abroad on the relationship between duration judgment and central executive function show that the effects of different central executive sub-functions on duration judgment are not the same. Previous researches were limited for deciding which of two models better describes the empirical data. Therefore, we established structural equation modeling as a methodological approach to test the relationship between different executive sub-functions and duration judgment, the extent of the impact of executive sub-functions on duration judgment, and further investigate the validity of the common timing and the distinct timing hypotheses. The experiment of this study included three executive function tasks and two different lengths of perspective duration judgment tasks. The three executive tasks which represented shifting function (Local-Global task), inhibition function (Stroop task) and updating function (N-back task) were considered to well reflect level of each sub-function in previous studies, respectively. Perspective duration judgment tasks included short (2s) and long (5s) duration production tasks. In experiment, we adopted within subjects design that all participants were instructed to finish 2s duration production task, shifting task, inhibition task, updating task, and 5s duration production task in sequence. In order to investigate which sub-function(s) was/were involved into perspective timing, and whether there was a difference between short and long duration, the experimental data were submitted to structural equation modeling. The result showed that the accuracy and the variability of both long and short perceptive duration judgment was primarily moderated by updating, while the variability of long perceptive duration judgment was additionally moderated by inhibition. In this study, perceptive duration judgment was not affected by switching. In summary, the effects of three executive sub-functions on perceptive duration judgment in short-duration and long-duration conditions were different. Perceptive duration judgment was moderated by updating in short duration condition and by both inhibition and updating in long duration condition. The outcome of this study also supported “different” mechanism hypothesis of duration judgment.

Keywords Perceptive duration judgment   Central executive sub-function   switching   inhibition   updating  
Received 2017-01-10 Revised 2017-06-28 Online: 2017-11-20 
Corresponding Authors: Zhi-Jie ZHANG
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