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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2005 Oct;6(10):755-65.

What makes us tick? Functional and neural mechanisms of interval timing.

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Duke University, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, 103 Research Drive, GSRB-2 Building, Room 3010, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA.


Time is a fundamental dimension of life. It is crucial for decisions about quantity, speed of movement and rate of return, as well as for motor control in walking, speech, playing or appreciating music, and participating in sports. Traditionally, the way in which time is perceived, represented and estimated has been explained using a pacemaker-accumulator model that is not only straightforward, but also surprisingly powerful in explaining behavioural and biological data. However, recent advances have challenged this traditional view. It is now proposed that the brain represents time in a distributed manner and tells the time by detecting the coincidental activation of different neural populations.

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