Perception of time in microgravity and hypergravity during parabolic flight

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Abstract

We explored the effect of gravity on the accuracy for estimating durations of 3.5, 7, and 14 s. Experiments were performed on board an Airbus A310 during parabolic flights eliciting repeated exposures to short periods of 0, 1, and 1.8 g. Two methods for obtaining duration estimates were used, reproduction and production of duration, in two conditions: a control counting condition and a concurrent reading condition. Simple reaction times were also measured to assess attention. The results showed that the temporal accuracies during the reproduction task in the concurrent reading condition were significantly underestimated in 0 g compared with 1 g. Reaction times were also longer in 0 g. However, there was no difference in duration estimates in the production tasks. These results suggest that the temporal underestimation in 0 g is caused by decreased selective attention and impaired retrieval of information in episodic memory.

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