Temporal interval production and short-term memory.

Abstract

Interference with time estimation from concurrent nontemporal processing has been shown to depend on the short-term memory requirements of the concurrent task (Fortin & Breton, 1995; Fortin, Rousseau, Bourque, & Kirouac, 1993). In particular, it has been claimed that active processing of information in short-term memory produces interference, whereas simply maintaining information does not. Here, four experiments are reported in which subjects were trained to produce a 2,500-msec interval and then perform concurrent memory tasks. Interference with timing was demonstrated for concurrent memory tasks involving only maintenance. In one experiment, increasing set size in a pitch memory task systematically lengthened temporal production. Two further experiments suggested that this was due to a specific interaction between the short-term memory requirements of the pitch task and those of temporal production. In the final experiment, subjects performed temporal production while concurrently remembering the durations of a set of tones. Interference with interval production was comparable to that produced by the pitch memory task. Results are discussed in terms of a pacemaker-counter model of temporal processing, in which the counter component is supported by short-term memory.

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