Lo Verde, L., Alais, D., Burr, D. C., Morrone, M. C., MacDougall, H., & Verstraten, F. A. J. (2019).
Time dilation effect in an active observer and virtual environment requires apparent motion: No dilation for retinal- or world-motion alone. Journal of Vision, 19(3), 4.
It is known that moving visual stimuli are perceived to last longer than stationary stimuli with the same physical duration (Kanai, Paffen, Hogendoorn, & Verstraten, 2006), and that motor actions (Tomassini & Morrone, 2016) and eye movements (Morrone, Ross, & Burr, 2005) can alter perceived duration. In the present work, we investigated the contributions of stimulus motion and self-motion to perceived duration while observers stood or walked in a virtual reality environment. Using a visual temporal reproduction task, we independently manipulated both the participants' motion (stationary or walking) and the stimulus motion (retinal stationary, real-world stationary and negative double velocity). When the observers were standing still, drifting gratings were perceived as lasting longer than duration-matched static gratings. Interestingly, we did not see any time distortion when observers were walking, neither when the gratings were kept stationary relative to the observer's point of view (i.e., no retinal motion) nor when they were stationary in the external world (i.e., producing the same retinal velocity as the walking condition with stationary grating). Self-motion caused significant dilation in perceived duration only when the gratings were moving at double speed, opposite to the observers' walking direction. Consistent with previous work (Fornaciai, Arrighi, & Burr, 2016), this suggests that the system is able to suppress self-generated motion to enhance external motion, which would have ecological benefits, for example, for threat detection while navigating through the environment.