The role of superior temporal cortex in auditory timing

PLoS One. 2008 Jun 25;3(6):e2481. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002481.


Recently, there has been upsurge of interest in the neural mechanisms of time perception. A central question is whether the representation of time is distributed over brain regions as a function of stimulus modality, task and length of the duration used or whether it is centralized in a single specific and supramodal network. The answers seem to be converging on the former, and many areas not primarily considered as temporal processing areas remain to be investigated in the temporal domain. Here we asked whether the superior temporal gyrus, an auditory modality specific area, is involved in processing of auditory timing. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation was applied over left and right superior temporal gyri while participants performed either a temporal or a frequency discrimination task of single tones. A significant decrease in performance accuracy was observed after stimulation of the right superior temporal gyrus, in addition to an increase in response uncertainty as measured by the Just Noticeable Difference. The results are specific to auditory temporal processing and performance on the frequency task was not affected. Our results further support the idea of distributed temporal processing and speak in favor of the existence of modality specific temporal regions in the human brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Pathways*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male