A representation of the hazard rate of elapsed time in macaque area LIP

Nat Neurosci. 2005 Feb;8(2):234-41. doi: 10.1038/nn1386. Epub 2005 Jan 16.


The capacity to anticipate the timing of environmental cues allows us to allocate sensory resources at the right time and prepare actions. Such anticipation requires knowledge of elapsed time and of the probability that an event will occur. Here we show that neurons in the parietal cortex represent the probability, as a function of time, that a salient event is likely to occur. Rhesus monkeys were trained to make eye movements to peripheral targets after a light dimmed. Within a block of trials, the 'go' times were drawn from either a bimodal or unimodal distribution of random numbers. Neurons in the lateral intraparietal area showed anticipatory activity that revealed an internal representation of both elapsed time and the probability that the 'go' signal was about to occur (termed the hazard rate). The results indicate that the parietal cortex contains circuitry for representing the time structure of environmental cues over a range of seconds.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cues
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / cytology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Probability*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception / physiology*