Probing interval timing with scalp-recorded electroencephalography (EEG)

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;829:187-207. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1782-2_11.


Humans, and other animals, are able to easily learn the durations of events and the temporal relationships among them in spite of the absence of a dedicated sensory organ for time. This chapter summarizes the investigation of timing and time perception using scalp-recorded electroencephalography (EEG), a non-invasive technique that measures brain electrical potentials on a millisecond time scale. Over the past several decades, much has been learned about interval timing through the examination of the characteristic features of averaged EEG signals (i.e., event-related potentials, ERPs) elicited in timing paradigms. For example, the mismatch negativity (MMN) and omission potential (OP) have been used to study implicit and explicit timing, respectively, the P300 has been used to investigate temporal memory updating, and the contingent negative variation (CNV) has been used as an index of temporal decision making. In sum, EEG measures provide biomarkers of temporal processing that allow researchers to probe the cognitive and neural substrates underlying time perception.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Contingent Negative Variation / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Scalp
  • Time Perception / physiology*