Neural modulation by regularity and passage of time

J Neurophysiol. 2008 Sep;100(3):1649-55. doi: 10.1152/jn.90656.2008. Epub 2008 Jul 16.


The current study tested whether multiple rhythms could flexibly induce temporal expectations (temporal orienting) and whether these expectations interact with temporal expectations associated with the passage of time (foreperiod effects). A visual stimulus that moved following a regular rhythm was temporarily occluded for a variable duration (occlusion foreperiod). The task involved making a speeded perceptual discrimination about the target stimulus that reappeared after the occlusion. Temporal-orienting effects were measured by comparing performance and event-related potentials on conditions in which the timing for target reappearance was predictable (valid) versus unpredictable (invalid) according to the rhythm. Foreperiod effects were measured by comparing conditions in which the target was occluded for progressively longer periods of time (short, medium, and long foreperiods) and hence were increasingly predictable. The results showed strong interactions between temporal orienting and foreperiod effects during the facilitation of behavior and neural activity associated with late perceptual and response selection processes. Temporal orienting attenuated the N2 amplitude and decreased the P3 latency only at short foreperiods. Temporal preparation related to foreperiod effects abolished temporal orienting effects at medium and long foreperiods. Likewise, foreperiod effects attenuated the N1 and N2 amplitudes and decreased the P3 latency only in the invalid orienting condition as preparation related to temporal orienting abolished foreperiod effects in the valid condition. This high degree of neural overlap between the effects of temporal orienting driven by rhythms and foreperiod effects associated with the passage of time suggests the involvement of a common mechanism for temporal preparation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Time Factors