Interval time coding by neurons in the presupplementary and supplementary motor areas

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Apr;12(4):502-7. doi: 10.1038/nn.2272. Epub 2009 Mar 1.


Interval timing is an essential guiding force of behavior. Previous reports have implicated the prefrontal and parietal cortex as being involved in time perception and in temporal decision making. We found that neurons in the medial motor areas, in particular the presupplementary motor area, participate in interval timing in the range of seconds. Monkeys were trained to perform an interval-generation task that required them to determine waiting periods of three different durations. Neuronal activity contributed to the process of retrieving time instructions from visual cues, signaled the initiation of action in a time-selective manner, and developed activity to represent the passage of time. These results specify how medial motor areas take part in initiating actions on the basis of self-generated time estimates.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cues
  • Electromyography
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Motor Cortex / cytology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception / physiology*