The shot clock reads, and a win forces a game. Two hands outstretched as the players one in royal blue and yellow, the other black hurtle towards the edge of the court. The ball sails out of bounds, and the play ends. Both players insist to the referee that the other touched the ball last. The crowd roars. Deciding which player touched the ball last, and which team should receive the ball, is difficult because the event lasts only fractions of a second. But a wrong decision can impact the outcome of a game.
The players’ reactions in situations like this are often attribute to acting skills; so even among professional players, but a team of Arizona State University psychologists wonder if both players might actually experience touching the ball first. In a paper published April 24 in Science Advances; so the researchers test how people interpret the timing and sequence of physical touches.

Ball out of bounds

When two players hit the ball out of bounds, there are frequently arguments between them about who touch it last,” said Ty Tang, an ASU psychology graduate student and first author on the study. While it is possible that both players are lying to get the ball back, Tang and his graduate advisor Michael McBeath, professor of psychology; hence thought it could also be possible that both players really do experience hitting the ball first.

With this clever study, Tang and McBeath zoom in on those moments that millions of sports fans look at every day,” said neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author David Eagleman; who is an expert in time perception. “What would have previously mark up to deceit or misjudgment has now been brought into the realm of basic neuroscience.

In the first experiment, two people sat across from each other at a table with a divider; so that prevent each participant from seeing the other. When a light flash, the participants use their right index finger to quickly touch; so a sensor on the back of the other person’s left hand. Each participant then push a button to indicate whether they had touch the other person’s hand first or vice versa.
The pair repeat this sequence 50 times, each time the light flash. The light flash at random times, and the participants were not tell whether they were correct in their assessment of who had touch first. When the touches happen at the same time both participants strongly believe they touch the other person earlier; so answering 67% of the time that they were first.

Mechanical devices

Even when the other person’s touch was 50 milliseconds earlier; so it was still perceive to occur at the same time as one’s own touch,” Tang said. The second experiment replace one of the people with a mechanical device that tap the participant’s hand. The third experiment had participants determine whether they touch first or a beep sound first. These two follow-up experiments test if the presence of people was necessary and if the timing effects find in the first experiment generalize to other senses.
The results were the same: People always insisted they touch first. In the second and third experiments; so there was again a 50 millisecond delay between the actual external touch or beep and when the participants felt it. The 50 millisecond time delay makes a lot of sense because they know the brain is always predicting our actions and perceptions” McBeath said. ”
People are generally accurate in the real-time perception of their own actions; so like hitting and catching a baseball, but they need a little extra time to process something unplanned, like an unexpected tap on the shoulder. Although they tend to think of time as something the brain passively tracks; hence in fact it is something the brain actively constructs. Studies like this demonstrate that our notion of when something happen is subjective and is bias in clear, measurable ways,” Eagleman said.