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Emotions can alter our perception of time (e.g., Droit-Volet & Meck, 2007; Droit-Volet, Fayolle, & Gil, 2011; Droit-Volet & Gil, 2015; Droit-Volet, Brunot, & Niedenthal, 2004; Effron, Niedenthal, Gil, & Droit-Volet, 2006; Droit-Volet, 2016). Adopting the most cited model of time perception, this may be due to an increase rythm of the pacemaker. According to this model (Scalar Expectancy Theory, or SET; Wearden, 1995) humans possess a pacemaker that generates pulses at a constant rate. These are then stored in an accumulator. During a timing task, a given number of pulses is compared to a set number of pulses stored in reference memory, and a decision arises. However, the pacemaker's rythm is variable and sensitive to certain states and stimuli. Emotional content leads to increased arousal. Because arousal is connected to the rythm of the pacemaker, increased arousal leads to increased rythm. This leads to a greater number of pulses being generated that, when compared to reference memory, produces overestimations. Virtual environments (VE) are usually associated with more pronounced awareness states. Also, virtual reality (VR) experiences are typically rated as being richer and more memorable than non-VR experiences. However, it is still unclear whether emotional priming produces stronger effects in VR than outside VR (e.g., Luigi, Tortell, Morie, & Dozois, n.a.; Qu, Brinkman, Wiggers, & Heynderickx, 2013) and whether time perception is influenced by virtual reality at all (e.g., Bruder & Steinicke, 2014). Although there exists a few studies that explored the patterns of brain activity during time perception tasks (e.g., Ustun, Kale, & Cicek, 2017) and after emotional priming (e.g., Suslow, Kugal, Ohrmann, Stuhrmann, Grotegerd, Redlich, Bauer, & Dannlowski, 2013; Garfinkel et al., 2016; Yoon, Kim, & Kim, 2015), studies that explored brain activity during time perception after emotional priming are few and used temporal tasks that are a far cry from standard time perception tasks (such as temporal expectation (e.g., Pichon, Guex, & Vuilleumier, 2016) and intertemporal decision-making (e.g., Luo, Ainslie, & Monterosso, 2014)). Although some studies have identified critical structures in emotional processing (e.g., Bush et al., 2018) and time perception (Coull, Vidal, Nazarian, & Macar, 2004; Macar et al., 2002; Penney & Vaitilingam, 2008; Rubia, 2006; Buhusi & Meck, 2005) it is still unclear which brain areas and networks are recruited during time perception after emotional priming. Identifying which brain areas and networks are more associated with emotional processing and with time perception allows for neuromodulation of said structures aiming at hindering or facilitating such processing. To such effect, researchers may use tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation) or rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) which allow for the stimulation of cortical areas. Although some neuromodulation studies that involve emotional content (e.g., Wang & Pereira, 2016; Choi, Scott, & Lim, 2016) and time perception (e.g., Mioni et al., 2016; Oyama et al., 2017) exist, none so far has explored whether neuromodulation of emotion can produce effects on time perception. Based on the above, our goals for this project are: 1) Determine which brain areas and networks are recruited during emotional priming of both negative and positive valence and during two time perception tasks (bisection and reproduction); 2) Determine whether VR priming affects time perception differently than non-VR priming; 3) Determine whether tDCS neuromodulation can suppress the effects of emotional priming on two time perception tasks.
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