Time-shifting in virtual reality induces motor but not non-motor temporal recalibration


Virtual reality (VR) provides a valuable research tool for mimicking real-world conditions while at the same time allowing investigators to study what occurs when sensorimotor feedback loops are manipulated. VR technology is often seen altering the action-perception relationship, but the effects of these VR manipulations on sensorimotor adaptation are understudied. Here we measured whether exposure to novel relationships between action and sensory reaction in VR produces a recalibration of time perception. We asked 32 participants to perform time perception tasks where the interval of a rotating probe was reproduced using a motor or non-motor reproduction method. These time perception tasks were completed pre- and post-exposure to dynamic VR content in a block-counterbalanced order. One group of participants experienced a standard VR task ("normal-time"), while another group had their real-world movements coupled to the speed of events that occurred in the virtual space ("time-shifting"). We expected this novel action-perception relationship to affect motor time perception performance, leaving non-motor time perception unaffected. The results indicated a motor-specific adaptation effect such that duration was under-estimated following exposure to time-shifted VR. A dynamic control task that was conducted outside of VR produced similar results to those of the normal-time VR group, confirming the specificity of the time-shifting manipulation. The findings provide valuable insights into the potential impact of VR on sensorimotor recalibration. Understanding this process can be valuable in developing and implementing this technology in rehabilitation practices.