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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;829:209-34. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1782-2_12.

Searching for the holy grail: temporally informative firing patterns in the rat.

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Villanova University, Philadelphia, PA, USA,


This chapter reviews our work from the past decade investigating cortical and striatal firing patterns in rats while they time intervals in the multi-seconds range. We have found that both cortical and striatal firing rates contain information that the rat can use to identify how much time has elapsed both from trial onset and from the onset of an active response state. I describe findings showing that the striatal neurons that are modulated by time are also modulated by overt behaviors, suggesting that time modulates the strength of motor coding in the striatum, rather than being represented as an abstract quantity in isolation. I also describe work showing that there are a variety of temporally informative activity patterns in pre-motor cortex, and argue that the heterogeneity of these patterns can enhance an organism's temporal estimate. Finally, I describe recent behavioral work from my lab in which the simultaneous cueing of multiple durations leads to a scalar temporal expectation at an intermediate time, providing strong support for a monotonic representation of time.

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