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

Author(s)Geoffrey E. Gerstner, Louis J. Goldberg
Year Published1994
JournalEthnology and Sociobiology
Page Numbers181-205
Size2.69 MB

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.

KEY WORDS: Movement patterns; Event durations; Mammal; Artiodactyla; Carnivora; Marsupialia; Giraffe: Okapi; Roe deer, Eastern gray kangaroo; Red panda; Raccoon.

Authors: Geoffrey E. Gerstner, Louis J. Goldberg

Journal: Ethnology and Sociobiology

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