The presence of an "internal clock" in the brain has been assumed to underlie the information processing related to time. This clock plays a critical role in time keeping and time perception, which are closely associated with integrated functions in the brain. To identify the brain areas recruited for time keeping and time perception, we performed positron emission tomography (PET) studies with rhesus monkeys to measure regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) as an index of neural activity during time discrimination tasks of different durations ranging from 400 to 1500 ms. Changes in rCBF that covaried significantly with the durations of the target being perceived by subjects were found in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the posterior part of the inferior parietal cortex, basal ganglia, and posterior cingulate cortex. Furthermore, a loss of neuronal function in the DLPFC caused by a local application of bicuculline resulted in the selective reduction of performance in time discrimination tasks. The results indicate that a neural network composed of the posterior inferior parietal cortex to the DLPFC plays a crucial role in the temporal monitoring process in time perception.
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