Oscillatory multiplexing of neural population codes for interval timing and working memory

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 Jan;48:160-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.10.008. Epub 2014 Oct 18.


Interval timing and working memory are critical components of cognition that are supported by neural oscillations in prefrontal-striatal-hippocampal circuits. In this review, the properties of interval timing and working memory are explored in terms of behavioral, anatomical, pharmacological, and neurophysiological findings. We then describe the various neurobiological theories that have been developed to explain these cognitive processes - largely independent of each other. Following this, a coupled excitatory - inhibitory oscillation (EIO) model of temporal processing is proposed to address the shared oscillatory properties of interval timing and working memory. Using this integrative approach, we describe a hybrid model explaining how interval timing and working memory can originate from the same oscillatory processes, but differ in terms of which dimension of the neural oscillation is utilized for the extraction of item, temporal order, and duration information. This extension of the striatal beat-frequency (SBF) model of interval timing (Matell and Meck, 2000, 2004) is based on prefrontal-striatal-hippocampal circuit dynamics and has direct relevance to the pathophysiological distortions observed in time perception and working memory in a variety of psychiatric and neurological conditions.

Keywords: Corticostriatal circuits; Episodic memory; Neural oscillations; Timing and time perception.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Periodicity*
  • Time Perception / physiology*