The neural representation of time

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2004 Apr;14(2):225-32. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2004.03.013.


This review summarizes recent investigations of temporal processing. We focus on motor and perceptual tasks in which crucial events span hundreds of milliseconds. One key question concerns whether the representation of temporal information is dependent on a specialized system, distributed across a network of neural regions, or computed in a local task-dependent manner. Consistent with the specialized system framework, the cerebellum is associated with various tasks that require precise timing. Computational models of timing mechanisms within the cerebellar cortex are beginning to motivate physiological studies. Emphasis has also been placed on the basal ganglia as a specialized timing system, particularly for longer intervals. We outline an alternative hypothesis in which this structure is associated with decision processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*