Time as the Ink That Music Is Written With: A Review of Internal Clock Models and Their Explanatory Power in Audiovisual Perception
Zeit als Grundlage der Musik: Ein Überblick zu Modellen innerer Uhren und deren Erklärungswert für die audiovisuelle Wahrnehmung

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Xinyue Wang
Clemens Wöllner


The current review addresses two internal clock models that have dominated discussions in timing research for the last decades. More specifically, it discusses whether the central or the intrinsic clock model better describes the fluctuations in subjective time. Identifying the timing mechanism is critical to explain and predict timing behaviours in various audiovisual contexts. Music stands out for its prominence in real life scenarios along with its great potential to alter subjective time. An emphasis on how music as a complex dynamic auditory signal affects timing accuracy led us to examine the behavioural and neuropsychological evidence that supports either clock model. In addition to the timing mechanisms, an overview of internal and external variables, such as attention and emotions as well as the classic experimental paradigms is provided, in order to examine how the mechanisms function in response to changes occurring particularly during music experiences. Neither model can explain the effects of music on subjective timing entirely: The intrinsic model applies primarily to subsecond timing, whereas the central model applies to the suprasecond range. In order to explain time experiences in music, one has to consider the target intervals as well as the contextual factors mentioned above. Further research is needed to reconcile the gap between theories, and suggestions for future empirical studies are outlined.

internal clock models; Dynamic Attending Theory; Scalar Expectancy Theory; music perception; audiovisual timing

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