A possible link between supra-second open-ended timing sensitivity and obsessive-compulsive tendencies

Sharon Gilaie-Dotan, Hamutal Ashkenazi, Reuven Dar

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4 Scopus citations


One of the main characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is the persistent feeling of uncertainty, affecting many domains of actions and feelings. It was recently hypothesized that OCD uncertainty is related to attenuated access to internal states. As supra-second timing is associated with bodily and interoceptive awareness, we examined whether supra-second timing would be associated with OC tendencies. We measured supra-second (9 s) and sub-second (450 ms) timing along with control non-temporal perceptual tasks in a group of 60 university students. Supra-second timing was measured either with fixed criterion tasks requiring to temporally discriminate between two predefined fixed interval durations (9 vs. 9.9 s), or with an open-ended task requiring to discriminate between 9 s and longer intervals which were of varying durations that were not a priori known to the participants. The open-ended task employed an adaptive Bayesian procedure that efficiently estimated the duration difference required to discriminate 9 s from longer intervals. We also assessed symptoms of OCD, depression, and anxiety. Open-ended supra-second temporal sensitivity was correlated with OC tendencies, as predicted (even after controlling for depression and anxiety), whereas the other tasks were not. Higher OC tendencies were associated with lower timing sensitivity to 9 s intervals such that participants with higher OC tendency scores required longer interval differences to discriminate 9 s from longer intervals. While these results need to be substantiated in future research, they suggest that open-ended timing tasks, as those encountered in real-life (e.g., estimating how long it would take to complete a task), might be adversely affected in OCD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue numberJun
StatePublished - 27 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Gilaie-Dotan, Ashkenazi and Dar.


  • OCD
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Sub-second
  • Supra-second
  • Time perception


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