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Many aspects of an event can change perceived duration. A common example of this is the magnitude-duration illusion, in which a high magnitude (e.g. large or high value) stimulus will be perceived to last longer than a low magnitude stimulus. The effects of magnitude on perceived duration are normally considered in terms of global context effects; what is large depends on the stimuli used throughout the experiment. In the current article, we examine local context effects in the magnitude-duration illusion, how trial-by-trial changes in magnitude affect the subjective duration of an event. We performed two experiments in which numerical magnitude and stimulus size were varied within either the example phase or reproduction phase of a temporal reproduction task. We showed that in the current trial the combined value-size magnitude presented in the example phase affected subsequent reproductions, while the magnitude presented in the reproduction phase did not. The size magnitude presented in the reproduction phase also affected the reproduction in the following trial, such that a larger stimulus in the current reproduction phase resulted in shorter reproductions in the next reproduction phase. This indicates that low level stimulus properties (i.e. size) can act to contextualize subsequent stimulus properties, which in turn affect perceived duration. The findings of our experiments add local, low-level, context effects to the known modifiers of perceived duration, as well as provide evidence with regards to the role of magnitude in interval timing.
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