Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Time contracts and temporal precision declines when the mind wanders

Terhune, Devin; Croucher, Madeline; Marcusson-Clavertz, David; Macdonald, James


Devin Terhune

Madeline Croucher

David Marcusson-Clavertz

James Macdonald
Senior Lecturer in Psychology (Cognitive and Neuropsychology)


© 2017 American Psychological Association. Our perception of time varies considerably from moment to moment, but how this variability relates to endogenous fluctuations in attentional states has been neglected. Here, we tested the hypothesis that perceptual decoupling during spontaneous mind wandering episodes distorts interval timing. In two studies with different visual subsecond interval timing paradigms, participants judged their attentional state on a trial-by-trial basis. Mind wandering states were characterized by underestimation of temporal intervals and a decline in temporal discrimination. Further analyses suggested that temporal contraction during mind wandering, but not the decline in temporal discrimination, could be attributed in part to attentional lapses. By contrast, we did not find any robust evidence that metacognition pertaining to interval timing was altered during mind wandering states. These results highlight the role of transient fluctuations in attentional states in intraindividual variability in time perception and have implications for the perceptual consequences, behavioral markers, and costs and benefits, of mind wandering.


Terhune, D., Croucher, M., Marcusson-Clavertz, D., & Macdonald, J. (2017). Time contracts and temporal precision declines when the mind wanders. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43(11), 1864-1871.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 19, 2017
Publication Date Nov 1, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 11, 2017
Journal Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Print ISSN 0096-1523
Electronic ISSN 1939-1277
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 11
Pages 1864-1871
Keywords time contracts, temporal precision, declines, mind wanders
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : "©American Psychological Association, 2017. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:


You might also like

Downloadable Citations