Searching for nothing: placing zero on the temporal continuum
Generalization allows responses acquired in one situation to be transferred to similar situations. For temporal stimuli, a discontinuity has been found between zero and non-zero durations: responses in trials with no (or 0-s) stimuli and in trials with very short stimuli differ more than what would be expected by generalization. This discontinuity may happen because 0-s durations do not belong to the same continuum as non-zero durations. Alternatively, the discontinuity may be due to generalization decrement effects: a 0-s stimulus differs from a short stimulus not only in duration, but also in its presence, thus leading to greater differences in performance. Aiming to reduce differences between trials with and without a stimulus, we used two procedures to test whether a potential reduction in generalization decrement would bring performance following zero and non-zero durations closer. In both procedures, there was a reduction in the discontinuity between 0-s and short durations, supporting the hypothesis that 0-s durations are integrated in the temporal subjective continuum.