DOI: 10.1002/pchj.677 ISSN:

Subjective time perception in musical imagery: An fMRI study on musicians

Morteza Izadifar, Arusu Formuli, Eve A. Isham, Marco Paolini
  • General Psychology


The cognitive preparation of an operation without overt motor execution is referred to as imagery (of any kind). Over the last two decades of progress in brain timing studies, the timing of imagery has received little focus. This study compared the time perception of ten professional violinists' actual and imagery performances to see if such an analysis could offer a different model of timing in musicians' imagery skills. When comparing the timing profiles of the musicians between the two situations (actual and imagery), we found a significant correlation in overestimation of time in the imagery. In our fMRI analysis, we found high activation in the left cerebellum. This finding seems consistent with dedicated models of timing such as the cerebellar timing hypothesis, which assigns a “specialized clock” for tasks. In addition, the present findings might provide empirical data concerning imagery, creativity, and time. Maintaining imagery over time is one of the foundations of creativity, and understanding the underlying temporal neuronal mechanism might help us to apprehend the machinery of creativity per se.

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