Time perception study

Do children with autism have problems with timing? 

Is there a connection between emotion recognition skills and understanding of the elapse of time? 

These are just two of the questions that we would like to begin to answer in a series of studies investigating internal ‘timing’ mechanisms in children and adolescents; that is, how they understand the elapse of time and duration of events. 

Is the perception of time related to social and motor abilities?

Using a variety of research techniques our aim is to examine how the perception of time may be related to social skills and movement in children with autistic spectrum condition (ASC) and typically developing children.

Anecdotal evidence from parents of children with ASC, indicate that these children have problems with processing time.  Our research group at The University of York have found that there is substantial overlap in the areas of the brain involved in processing emotions and areas associated with processing time. Together these lead us to believe that there may be interesting links between the mental processing of time and social and motor skills. 

                          Scans showing the brain regions involved in:

             emotion recognition                                    time perception

Image of regions involved in emotion recognition       Image of regions involved in time perception

Purpose of the Research

The project aims to:

  • gain greater insight into the internal timing/clocking mechanisms of children of different ages.
  • better understand how these internal timing mechanisms relate to social and motor abilities in typically developing children.
  • gain knowledge about how such timing mechanisms may be related to social and motor problems in children with autism spectrum condition.
  • explore the utility of using time tasks as a marker for diagnosing autism spectrum condition.

Who we need for the study

We are looking to recruit children and adolescents, aged between 5 and 15 years of age, to participate in the study. We would like to recruit children and adolescents with a current diagnosis of autism spectrum condition, as well as typically developing youngsters.

We are also hoping to get local schools in the Yorkshire region involved in the project by co-hosting some of the research sessions.

How can you get involved?

If you and your child are interested in participating in the research, or are a school interested in collaborating on the project, please view the relevant section below, where you will find information about what would be involved and consent forms.

Information for parents and children

Information for schools