Comparing the effects of implicit and explicit temporal expectation on choice response time and response conflict

Melisa Menceloglu*, Marcia Grabowecky, Satoru Suzuki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


People can use temporally structured sensory information to anticipate future events. Temporal information can be presented implicitly through probability manipulation without participants’ awareness of the manipulation, or explicitly conveyed through instructions. We examined how implicit and explicit temporal information established temporal expectations that influenced choice response times and response conflict (measured as flanker effects). We implicitly manipulated temporal structure by block-wise varying the likely timing of a target. In the short-interval block, a target was presented frequently (80 % of trials) after a short (400 ms) cue-to-target interval and infrequently (20 % of trials) after a long (1200 ms) interval; the probability assignment was reversed in the long-interval block. Building on this baseline condition (Experiment 1), we augmented the temporal information by filling the cue-to-target intervals with tones (Experiment 2), explicitly informed participants of the prevalent time interval (Experiment 3) and provided trial-by-trial reminders of the prevalent time interval (Experiment 4). The temporal probability manipulation alone (of which participants were unaware) influenced choice response times but only when the temporal information was augmented with tones, whereas providing the explicit knowledge of the temporal manipulation, with or without trial-by-trial reminders, robustly influenced choice response times. Response conflict was unaffected by these conditions. These results suggest that temporal expectation can be established by the implicit learning of a temporal structure given that sufficiently strong temporal information is presented as well as by the explicit knowledge of the temporal structure. This established temporal expectation influences choice response times without necessarily affecting the strength of response conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-179
Number of pages11
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Temporal processing
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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