Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How does the brain measure time?

Date:
October 30, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Researchers 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.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Blaine A. Schneider, Geoffrey M. Ghose. Temporal Production Signals in Parietal Cortex. PLoS Biology, 2012; 10 (10): e1001413 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001413

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "How does the brain measure time?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030210339.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, October 30). How does the brain measure time?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030210339.htm
Public Library of Science. "How does the brain measure time?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030210339.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins