Sense of time

- current project - Time is, beside space, one of the fundamentals of every existence. Time is crucial for almost any activity including the day-night cycle, foraging, decision making or the control of vocalizations. Timing abilities have been demonstrated in many animal species - now including two pinniped species. A harbor seal and a fur seal were able to discriminate time intervals precisely. Thus besides information provided by other senses, harbor seals can also rely on time for foraging or orientation.

The video shows seal Luca in a timing experiment conducted in a dark chamber. His task was to indicate the shorter (standard) stimulus by moving its snout to the left and the longer (comparison) stimulus by movng its snout to the right. In this example, time intervals were marked by an optical stimulus presented for a specific time interval on the monitor. The standard stimulus is 800ms long, the comparison stimulus is 1100ms long. By decreasing the duration of the comparison interval, a difference threshold can be obtained.