1-s Productions: A Validation of an Efficient Measure of Clock Variability

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 12:428131 (2018)
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Objective: Clock variance is an important statistic in many clinical and developmental studies. Existing methods require a large number of trials for accurate clock variability assessment, which is problematic in studies using clinical or either young or aged participants. Furthermore, these existing methods often implicitly convolute clock and memory processes, making it difficult to disentangle whether the clock or memory system are driving the observed deviations. Here we assessed whether twenty repeated productions of a well-engrained interval (1 second), a task that does not incorporate memory updating nor the processing of feedback, could provide an accurate assessment of clock variability. Method: Sixty-eight undergraduate students completed two tasks: a 1-second production task in which they were asked to produce a 1-second duration by ending a tone by a keypress, and a multi-duration reproduction task. Durations presented in the reproduction task were tones lasting 1.17, 1.4 and 1.68 seconds. No feedback was presented in either task, and the order of presentation was counterbalanced between participants. Results: The observed central tendency in the reproduction task was better explained by models including the measures of clock variability derived from the 1-second production task than by models without it. Three clock variability measures were calculated for each participant (standard deviation, root mean squared residuals (RMSR) from an estimated linear slope, and RMSR scaled by mean production duration). The model including the scaled RMSR was prefered over the alternative models, and no notable effects of the order of presentation were observed. These results suggest that (1) measures of variability should account for drift, (2) the presentation of another timing task before a 1-second production task did not influence the assessment of the clock variability, and (3) the observed variability adheres to the scalar property and predicts temporal performance, and is thus a usable index of clock variability. Conclusion: This study shows that just 20 repeated productions of 1 second provide a reliable index of clock variability. As administering this task is fast and easy, it could prove to be useful in a large variety of developmental and clinical populations.



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