Articles and news from the latest research reports.

297 notes

How does the brain measure time?

(Image: bzztbomb)

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) have found a small population of neurons that is involved in measuring time, which is a process that has traditionally been difficult to study in the lab.

In the study, which is published October 30 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, the researchers developed a task in which monkeys could only rely on their internal sense of the passage of time. Their task design eliminated all external cues which could have served as “clocks”.

The monkeys were trained to move their eyes consistently at regular time intervals without any external cues or immediate expectation of reward. Researchers found that despite the lack of sensory information, the monkeys were remarkably precise and consistent in their timed behaviors. This consistency could be explained by activity in a specific region of the brain called the lateral intraparietal area (LIP). Interestingly, the researchers found that LIP activity during their task was different from activity in previous studies that had failed to eliminate external cues or expectation of reward.

"In contrast to previous studies that observed a build-up of activity associated with the passage of time, we found that LIP activity decreased at a constant rate between timed movements," said lead researcher Geoffrey Ghose, Ph.D., associate professor of neuroscience at the University of Minnesota. "Importantly, the animals’ timing varied after these neurons were more, or less, active. It’s as if the activity of these neurons was serving as an internal hourglass."

By developing a model to help explain the differences in timing signals they see relative to previous studies, their study also suggests that there is no “central clock” in the brain that is relied upon for all tasks involving timing. Instead, it appears as though each of the brain’s circuits responsible for different actions are capable of independently producing an accurate timing signal.

One important direction for future research is to explore how such precise timing signals arise as a consequence of practice and learning, and whether, when the signals are altered, there are clear effects on behavior.


Filed under brain external cues neuron time perception neuroscience psychology science

  1. sassandsmiles reblogged this from thisisourcreed
  2. yroehtemit reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  3. timetheory reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  4. brainstufffyi4dew0319 reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  5. mysteriousmacaroni reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  6. jeeooom reblogged this from neuroticthought
  7. cleverwaysoflearning reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  8. fralac reblogged this from neuroticthought
  9. carawill reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  10. a-madsci reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  11. ifveniceissinking reblogged this from rememo
  12. doceee reblogged this from neuroticthought
  13. vertikar reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  14. blindtricks reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  15. mikeredmer reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  16. bloody-tear reblogged this from neuroticthought
  17. thisblurbisanerd reblogged this from neuroticthought
  18. nobodyshippie reblogged this from rememo
  19. christhehatman reblogged this from ahandsomestark
  20. ahandsomestark reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  21. membranoproliferative reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  22. rememo reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  23. thisisourcreed reblogged this from neuroticthought
  24. pyranova reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  25. okorogariist reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
free counters