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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2009 Jul 12;364(1525):1933-42. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2009.0008.

Emotional moments across time: a possible neural basis for time perception in the anterior insula.

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  • 1Atkinson Research Laboratory, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ 85041, USA.


A model of awareness based on interoceptive salience is described, which has an endogenous time base that might provide a basis for the human capacity to perceive and estimate time intervals in the range of seconds to subseconds. The model posits that the neural substrate for awareness across time is located in the anterior insular cortex, which fits with recent functional imaging evidence relevant to awareness and time perception. The time base in this model is adaptive and emotional, and thus it offers an explanation for some aspects of the subjective nature of time perception. This model does not describe the mechanism of the time base, but it suggests a possible relationship with interoceptive afferent activity, such as heartbeat-related inputs.

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