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J Neurosci. 2013 Jul 24;33(30):12423-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5146-12.2013.

How the visual brain encodes and keeps track of time.

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Functional Electrical Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University Hospital of Lausanne, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Time is embedded in any sensory experience: the movements of a dance, the rhythm of a piece of music, the words of a speaker are all examples of temporally structured sensory events. In humans, if and how visual cortices perform temporal processing remains unclear. Here we show that both primary visual cortex (V1) and extrastriate area V5/MT are causally involved in encoding and keeping time in memory and that this involvement is independent from low-level visual processing. Most importantly we demonstrate that V1 and V5/MT come into play simultaneously and seem to be functionally linked during interval encoding, whereas they operate serially (V1 followed by V5/MT) and seem to be independent while maintaining temporal information in working memory. These data help to refine our knowledge of the functional properties of human visual cortex, highlighting the contribution and the temporal dynamics of V1 and V5/MT in the processing of the temporal aspects of visual information.

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