Action enhances auditory but not visual temporal sensitivity

Lucica Iordanescu, Marcia Grabowecky, Satoru Suzuki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


People naturally dance to music, and research has shown that rhythmic auditory stimuli facilitate production of precisely timed body movements. If motor mechanisms are closely linked to auditory temporal processing, just as auditory temporal processing facilitates movement production, producing action might reciprocally enhance auditory temporal sensitivity. We tested this novel hypothesis with a standard temporal-bisection paradigm, in which the slope of the temporal-bisection function provides a measure of temporal sensitivity. The bisection slope for auditory time perception was steeper when participants initiated each auditory stimulus sequence via a keypress than when they passively heard each sequence, demonstrating that initiating action enhances auditory temporal sensitivity. This enhancement is specific to the auditory modality, because voluntarily initiating each sequence did not enhance visual temporal sensitivity. A control experiment ruled out the possibility that tactile sensation associated with a keypress increased auditory temporal sensitivity. Taken together, these results demonstrate a unique reciprocal relationship between auditory time perception and motor mechanisms. As auditory perception facilitates precisely timed movements, generating action enhances auditory temporal sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-114
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Action
  • Auditory temporal sensitivity
  • Visual temporal sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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