Evidence of a Time Constant Associated With Movement Patterns in Six Mammalian Species

Human psychophysical studies have provided evidence of a short duration time constant associated with perceptual tasks. This time constant is approximately 3 s in duration, and evidence suggests that it represents a central neural mechanism that functions to integrate “successive events into a Gestalt” in order to create a “subjective present.” Recent studies have found a 3 s time constant in human and chimpanzee movement patterns, suggesting that a similar mechanism subserves both human perceptual and primate motor skills. These studies have focused exclusively on humans and chimpanzees; therefore, it is unclear whether this time constant represents a characteristic derived in the primate order or an ancestral characteristic found in many different mammalian orders. The current study looked for evidence of a 3 s time constant associated with movement patterns in six mammalian species representing three non-primate orders. The results showed that all six species’ movement pattern event durations averaged about 3 s, and that there were no significant differences in the mean event durations among the species. Thus, the 3 s time constant originally found in human perceptual and primate motor skills is common among many mammalian orders and probably represents the operation of an ancestral neural mechanism.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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