Ordinal comparison of successively presented signal durations requires (a) the encoding of the first signal duration (standard), (b) maintenance of temporal information specific to the standard duration in memory, and (c) timing of the second signal duration (comparison) during which a comparison is made of the first and second durations. Rats were first trained to make ordinal comparisons of signal durations within three time ranges using 0.5, 1.0, and 3.0-s standard durations. Local field potentials were then recorded from the dorsal striatum and sensorimotor cortex in order to investigate the pattern of neural oscillations during each phase of the ordinal-comparison process. Increased power in delta and theta frequency ranges was observed during both the encoding and comparison stages. Active maintenance of a selected response, "shorter" or "longer" (counter-balanced across left and right levers), was represented by an increase of theta and delta oscillations in the contralateral striatum and cortex. Taken together, these data suggest that neural oscillations in the delta-theta range play an important role in the encoding, maintenance, and comparison of signal durations.
Keywords: Delta oscillations; Interval timing; Striatal beat-frequency model; Temporal cognition; Theta oscillations; Time perception.
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