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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 1998 Jul;7(1):15-39.

Dissociable contributions of the prefrontal and neocerebellar cortex to time perception.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA


We report a series a three psychophysical experiments designed to differentiate the contributions of the neocerebellar and prefrontal cortex to time perception. Comparison of patients with focal, unilateral neocerebellar or prefrontal lesions on temporal discrimination of 400-ms and 4-s intervals (Expt. 1) indicated that neocerebellar damage impaired timing in both millisecond and seconds ranges, whereas prefrontal damage resulted in deficits that were robust only at the longer duration. Patients with prefrontal lesions, however, also exhibited working memory deficits on a non-temporal task (Expt. 2), biases in point of subjective equality indicative of attentional deficits, and were disproportionately sensitive to strategic manipulations in a long-duration discrimination task (Expt. 3). In contrast, the pervasive timing deficits of cerebellar patients were relatively insensitive to strategic support and could not be readily explained by general deficits in working memory or attention. These findings support the hypothesis that neocerebellar regions subserve a central timing mechanism, whereas the prefrontal cortex subserves supportive functions associated with the acquisition, maintenance, monitoring and organization of temporal representations in working memory. Such functions serve to bridge the output of the central timing mechanism with behavior. Together, these regions appear to participate in a working memory system involved in discrimination of durations extending from a few milliseconds to many seconds.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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