Single trial beta oscillations index time estimation

Neuropsychologia. 2015 Aug;75:381-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.06.014. Epub 2015 Jun 20.


Recent work shows that putamen-originating beta power oscillations serve as a carrier for temporal information during tapping tasks, with higher beta power associated with longer temporal reproductions. However, given the nature of tapping tasks, it is difficult to determine whether beta power dynamics observed in these tasks are linked to the generation or execution of motor programs or to the internal representation of time. To assess whether recent findings in animals generalize to human studies we reanalyzed existing EEG data of participants who estimated a 2.5s time interval with self-paced onset and offset keypresses. The results showed that the trial-to-trial beta power measured after the onset predicts the produced duration, such that higher beta power indexes longer produced durations. Moreover, although beta power measured before the first key-press also influenced the estimated interval, it did so independently from post-first-keypress beta power. These results suggest that initial motor inhibition plays an important role in interval production, and that this inhibition can be interpreted as a biased starting point of the decision processes involved in time estimation.

Keywords: Beta power oscillations; Dopamine; Inhibition; Interval timing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Beta Rhythm*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Fingers
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Theta Rhythm
  • Time Perception / physiology*