The context of temporal processing is represented in the multidimensional relationships between timing tasks

PLoS One. 2008 Sep 9;3(9):e3169. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003169.


In the present study we determined the performance interrelations of ten different tasks that involved the processing of temporal intervals in the subsecond range, using multidimensional analyses. Twenty human subjects executed the following explicit timing tasks: interval categorization and discrimination (perceptual tasks), and single and multiple interval tapping (production tasks). In addition, the subjects performed a continuous circle-drawing task that has been considered an implicit timing paradigm, since time is an emergent property of the produced spatial trajectory. All tasks could be also classified as single or multiple interval paradigms. Auditory or visual markers were used to define the intervals. Performance variability, a measure that reflects the temporal and non-temporal processes for each task, was used to construct a dissimilarity matrix that quantifies the distances between pairs of tasks. Hierarchical clustering and multidimensional scaling were carried out on the dissimilarity matrix, and the results showed a prominent segregation of explicit and implicit timing tasks, and a clear grouping between single and multiple interval paradigms. In contrast, other variables such as the marker modality were not as crucial to explain the performance between tasks. Thus, using this methodology we revealed a probable functional arrangement of neural systems engaged during different timing behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception*
  • Visual Perception