Transcranial magnetic theta-burst stimulation of the human cerebellum distinguishes absolute, duration-based from relative, beat-based perception of subsecond time intervals

Front Psychol. 2010 Oct 25;1:171. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00171. eCollection 2010.


CEREBELLAR FUNCTIONS IN TWO TYPES OF PERCEPTUAL TIMING WERE ASSESSED: the absolute (duration-based) timing of single intervals and the relative (beat-based) timing of rhythmic sequences. Continuous transcranial magnetic theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) was applied over the medial cerebellum and performance was measured adaptively before and after stimulation. A large and significant effect was found in the TBS (n = 12) compared to the SHAM (n = 12) group for single-interval timing but not for the detection of a regular beat or a deviation from it. The data support the existence of distinct perceptual timing mechanisms and an obligatory role of the cerebellum in absolute interval timing with a functional dissociation from relative timing of interval within rhythmic sequences based on a regular beat.

Keywords: absolute; beat; cerebellum; duration; perception; relative; timing; transcranial magnetic theta-burst stimulation.