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Properties of the Internal Clock: First- and Second-Order Principles of Subjective Time

Lookup NU author(s): Sundeep Teki, Professor Tim GriffithsORCiD


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Humans share with other animals an ability to measure the passage of physical time and subjectively experience a sense of time passing. Subjective time has hallmark qualities, akin to other senses, which can be accounted for by formal, psychological, and neurobiological models of the internal clock. These include first-order principles, such as changes in clock speed and how temporal memories are stored, and second-order principles, including timescale invariance, multisensory integration, rhythmical structure, and attentional time-sharing. Within these principles there are both typical individual differences-influences of emotionality, thought speed, and psychoactive drugs-and atypical differences in individuals affected with certain clinical disorders (e.g., autism, Parkinson's disease, and schizophrenia). This review summarizes recent behavioral and neurobiological findings and provides a theoretical framework for considering how changes in the properties of the internal clock impact time perception and other psychological domains.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Allman MJ, Teki S, Griffiths TD, Meck WH

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annual Review of Psychology

Year: 2014

Volume: 65

Pages: 743-771

Print publication date: 11/09/2013

ISSN (print): 0066-4308

ISSN (electronic): 1545-2085



DOI: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115117