Properties of the internal clock

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1984;423:566-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1984.tb23459.x.


Evidence has been cited for the following properties of the parts of the psychological process used for timing intervals: The pacemaker has a mean rate that can be varied by drugs, diet, and stress. The switch has a latency to operate and it can be operated in various modes, such as run, stop, and reset. The accumulator times up, in absolute, arithmetic units. Working memory can be reset on command or, after lesions have been created in the fimbria fornix, when there is a gap in a signal. The transformation from the accumulator to reference memory is done with a multiplicative constant that is affected by drugs, lesions, and individual differences. The comparator uses a ratio between the value in the accumulator (or working memory) and reference memory. Finally, there must be multiple switch-accumulator modules to handle simultaneous temporal processing; and the psychological timing process may be used on some occasions and not on others.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / drug effects
  • Biological Clocks* / drug effects
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Generalization, Psychological / drug effects
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology
  • Psychophysics
  • Rats
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Time Perception* / drug effects


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Methamphetamine