Time Perception

In 2017 I started studying time perception in the Temporal Cognition Lab of Hedderik van Rijn at the department of Cognitive/Experimental Psychology of the University of Groningen. We aim to answer questions about how our brain is able to keep track of time (in the second-minutes range). We design experiments (try one here!), collect neurophysiological data (EEG, fMRI) and do sophisticated analyses, mostly on healthy participants. The results of these studies are published in peer reviewed journals and will lead to a dissertation.


Choice behavior and timing in heat

Changes in body temperature could influence the way our brain functions. For example, it is thought that our internal clock speeds up when core body temperature rises. In a controlled experiment, we heated up participants in a jacuzzi and asked them to perform a timing task, and a decision making task. We found out that temperature plays an important role in decision-making under time pressure.

Read the paper here!


Time perception is often studied in artificial laboratory conditions; a participant sits in front of a screen and is asked to judge time intervals or press buttons for very specific durations. We are sometimes faced with participants who are not that motivated to do our experiments. In this study, I analysed a large set of replays from the popular online real-time strategy game StarCraft2. Players of that game know very well how to exploit temporal regularities of the Queen Inject ability. Good estimation of how much time has passed is advantageous for them, and this dataset therefore provides a unique way to study time perception! In 2019 I Presented a poster at Timing Research Forum about this project. Read more about it on my OSF repository.. Me and Hedderik van Rijn also described this study in detail in an article that was published in Cognitive Science.

Timing Under Risk

Attention Perception and Psychophysics published an article written by me, Atser Damsma, Niels Taatgen and Hedderik van Rijn! It’s about the way people are aware of their own impreciseness when trying to time a short interval, and use this awareness to optimize their behavior. Read it here!

In this project I contribute to knowledge about how we use time perception in tasks where being on time really matters for participants. It turns out that being careful about being exactly on time has similar properties to being precise in other types of decisions.

Want to try the type of experiment I use? Try one here!

Talking About Time at the Kinderuniversiteit

I wrote a post for Mindwise, the blog platform of the Department of Psychology of the University of Groningen. Read about it on Mindwise!

Hoe Lang Duurt Saai?

The Scholierenacacemie developed interactive lessons for high school students based on the research we do on time perception. I developed a set of experiments that students perform themselves first, and then learn how to interpret the results. Read about it on the website of the Scholierenacademie. Part of the package are three explanatory videos like this one:

Copyright © 2021 Robbert van der Mijn