Modality-specific sensory and decisional carryover effects in duration perception

Baolin Li, Biyao Wang, Adam Zaidel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The brain uses recent history when forming perceptual decisions. This results in carryover effects in perception. Although separate sensory and decisional carryover effects have been shown in many perceptual tasks, their existence and nature in temporal processing are unclear. Here, we investigated whether and how previous stimuli and previous choices affect subsequent duration perception, in vision and audition. Results: In a series of three experiments, participants were asked to classify visual or auditory stimuli into “shorter” or “longer” duration categories. In experiment 1, visual and auditory stimuli were presented in separate blocks. Results showed that current duration estimates were repelled away from the previous trial’s stimulus duration, but attracted towards the previous choice, in both vision and audition. In experiment 2, visual and auditory stimuli were pseudorandomly presented in one block. We found that sensory and decisional carryover effects occurred only when previous and current stimuli were from the same modality. Experiment 3 further investigated the stimulus dependence of carryover effects within each modality. In this experiment, visual stimuli with different shape topologies (or auditory stimuli with different audio frequencies) were pseudorandomly presented in one visual (or auditory) block. Results demonstrated sensory carryover (within each modality) despite task-irrelevant differences in visual shape topology or audio frequency. By contrast, decisional carryover was reduced (but still present) across different visual topologies and completely absent across different audio frequencies. Conclusions: These results suggest that serial dependence in duration perception is modality-specific. Moreover, repulsive sensory carryover effects generalize within each modality, whereas attractive decisional carryover effects are contingent on contextual details.

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
JournalBMC Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 8 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, grant No. 32000744) to Baolin Li and the Israel Science Foundation (ISF, grant No. 1291/20) to Adam Zaidel.

FundersFunder number
National Natural Science Foundation of China32000744
Israel Science Foundation1291/20


    • Adaptation
    • Confirmation bias
    • Generalization
    • History effects
    • Serial dependence
    • Timing


    Dive into the research topics of 'Modality-specific sensory and decisional carryover effects in duration perception'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this