Where Does Time Go When You Blink?

Shany Grossman*, Chen Gueta, Slav Pesin, Rafael Malach, Ayelet N. Landau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Retinal input is frequently lost because of eye blinks, yet humans rarely notice these gaps in visual input. Although previous studies focused on the perceptual and neural correlates of diminished awareness to blinks, the impact of these correlates on the perceived time of concurrent events is unknown. Here, we investigated whether the subjective sense of time is altered by spontaneous blinks. We found that participants (N = 22) significantly underestimated the duration of a visual stimulus when a spontaneous blink occurred during stimulus presentation and that this underestimation was correlated with the blink duration of individual participants. Importantly, the effect was not present when durations of an auditory stimulus were judged (N = 23). The results point to a link between spontaneous blinks, previously demonstrated to induce activity suppression in the visual cortex, and a compression of subjective time. They suggest that ongoing encoding within modality-specific sensory cortices, independent of conscious awareness, informs the subjective sense of time.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)907-916
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • spontaneous blinks
  • temporal bisection
  • time compression
  • time perception
  • vision


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