Flicker adaptation of low-level cortical visual neurons contributes to temporal dilation

Laura Ortega*, Emmanuel Guzman-Martinez, Marcia Grabowecky, Satoru Suzuki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Several seconds of adaptation to a flickered stimulus causes a subsequent brief static stimulus to appear longer in duration. Nonsensory factors, such as increased arousal and attention, have been thought to mediate this flicker-based temporal-dilation aftereffect. In this study, we provide evidence that adaptation of low-level cortical visual neurons contributes to this aftereffect. The aftereffect was significantly reduced by a 45° change in Gabor orientation between adaptation and test. Because orientation-tuning bandwidths are smaller in lower-level cortical visual areas and are approximately 45° in human V1, the result suggests that flicker adaptation of orientation-tuned V1 neurons contributes to the temporal-dilation aftereffect. The aftereffect was abolished when the adaptor and test stimuli were presented to different eyes. Because eye preferences are strong in V1 but diminish in higher-level visual areas, the eye specificity of the aftereffect corroborates the involvement of low-level cortical visual neurons. Our results suggest that flicker adaptation of low-level cortical visual neurons contributes to expanding visual duration. Furthermore, this temporal-dilation aftereffect dissociates from the previously reported temporal-compression aftereffect on the basis of the differences in their orientation and flicker-frequency selectivity, suggesting that the visual system possesses at least two distinct and potentially complementary mechanisms for adaptively coding perceived duration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1380-1389
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Attention
  • Flicker
  • Low-level processing
  • Temporal dilation
  • Visual adaptation
  • Visual neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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