Functional localization of a “time keeper” function separate from attentional resources and task strategy

Joseph I. Tracy, Scott H. Faro, Feroze B. Mohamed, Mark Pinsk, Alex Pinus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The functional neuroanatomy of time estimation has not been well- documented. This research investigated the fMRI measured brain response to an explicit, prospective time interval production (TIP) task. The study tested for the presence of brain activity reflecting a primary time keeper function, distinct from the brain systems involved either in conscious strategies to monitor time or attentional resource and other cognitive processes to accomplish the task. In the TIP task participants were given a time interval and asked to indicate when it elapsed. Two control tasks (counting forwards, backwards) were administered, in addition to a dual task format of the TIP task. Whole brain images were collected at 1.5 Tesla. Analyses (n = 6) yielded a statistical parametric map (SPM (z)) reflecting time keeping and not strategy (counting, number manipulation) or attention resource utilization. Additional SPM (z)s involving activation associated with the accuracy and magnitude the of time estimation response are presented. Results revealed lateral cerebellar and inferior temporal lobe activation were associated with primary time keeping. Behavioral data provided evidence that the procedures for the explicit time judgements did not occur automatically and utilized controlled processes. Activation sites associated with accuracy, magnitude, and the dual task provided indications of the other structures involved in time estimation that implemented task components related to controlled processing. The data are consistent with prior proposals that the cerebellum is a repository of codes for time processing, but also implicate temporal lobe structures for this type of time estimation task. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-242
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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