The Striatal Beat Frequency (SBF) model of interval timing uses many neural oscillators, presumably located in the frontal cortex (FC), to produce beats at a specific criterion time Tc. The coincidence detection produces the beats in the basal ganglia spiny neurons by comparing the current state of the FC neural oscillators against the long-term memory values stored at reinforcement time Tc. The neurobiologically realistic SBF model has been previously used for producing precise and scalar timing in the presence of noise. Here we simplified the SBF model to gain insight into the resource allocation problem in interval timing networks. Specifically, we used a noise-free SBF model to explore the lower limits of the number of neural oscillators required for producing accurate timing. Using abstract sine-wave neural oscillators in the SBF-sin model, we found that the lower limit of the number of oscillators needed is proportional to the criterion time Tc and the frequency span (fmax − fmin) of the FC neural oscillators. Using biophysically realistic Morris–Lecar model neurons in the SBF-ML model, the lower bound increased by one to two orders of magnitude compared to the SBF-sin model.
The major tenets of beat-frequency/coincidence-detection models of reward-related timing are reviewed in light of recent behavioral and neurobiological findings. This includes the emphasis on a core timing network embedded in the motor system that is comprised of a corticothalamic-basal ganglia circuit. Therein, a central hub provides timing pulses (i.e., predictive signals) to the entire brain, including a set of distributed satellite regions in the cerebellum, cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus that are selectively engaged in timing in a manner that is more dependent upon the specific sensory, behavioral, and contextual requirements of the task. Oscillation/coincidence-detection models also emphasize the importance of a tuned ‘perception’ learning and memory system whereby target durations are detected by striatal networks of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) through the coincidental activation of different neural populations, typically utilizing patterns of oscillatory input from the cortex and thalamus or derivations thereof (e.g., population coding) as a time base. The measure of success of beat-frequency/coincidence-detection accounts, such as the Striatal Beat-Frequency model of reward-related timing (SBF), is their ability to accommodate new experimental findings while maintaining their original framework, thereby making testable experimental predictions concerning diagnosis and treatment of issues related to a variety of dopamine-dependent basal ganglia disorders, including Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Many species, including humans, show both accurate timing − appropriate time estimation in the seconds to minutes range − and scalar timing − time estimation error varies linearly with estimated duration. Behavioral paradigms aimed at investigating interval timing are expected to evaluate these dissociable characteristics of timing. However, when evaluating interval timing in models of neuropsychiatric disease, researchers are confronted with a lack of adequate studies about the parent (background) strains, since accuracy and scalar timing have only been demonstrated for the C57BL/6 strain of mice (
Behav. Neurosci., 123, 1102–1113). We used a peak-interval (PI) procedure with three intervals − a protocol in which other species, including humans, demonstrate accurate, scalar timing − to evaluate timing accuracy and scalar timing in three strains of mice frequently used in genetic and behavioral studies: 129, Swiss-Webster (SW), and C57BL/6. C57BL/6 mice showed accurate, scalar timing, while 129 and SW mice showed departures from accuracy and/or scalar timing. Results suggest that the genetic background/strain of the mouse is a critical variable for studies investigating interval timing in genetically engineered mice. Our study validates the PI procedure with multiple intervals as a proper technique, and the C57BL/6 strain as the most suitable genetic background to date for behavioral investigations of interval timing in genetically engineered mice modeling human disorders. In contrast, studies using mice in 129, SW, or mixed-background strains should be interpreted with caution, and thorough investigations of accuracy and scalar timing should be conducted before a less studied strain of mouse is considered for use in timing studies.
Interpersonal musical interaction typically relies on the mutual exchange of auditory and visual information. Inspired by the finding of Christiaan Huygens that two pendulum clocks spontaneously synchronize when hanging from a common, movable wooden beam, we explored the possible use of mechanical coupling as an alternative coupling modality between people to strengthen (spontaneous and instructed) joint (musical) synchronization. From a coupled oscillator viewpoint, we hypothesized that dyads standing on a common movable platform would cause bidirectional passive body motion (and corresponding proprioceptive, vestibular and somatosensory sensations), leading to enhanced interpersonal coordination and mutual entrainment. To test this hypothesis, we asked dyads to perform a musical synchronization–continuation task, while standing on a movable platform. Their rhythmic movements were compared under different conditions: mechanically coupled/decoupled platforms, and spontaneous/instructed synchronization. Additionally, we investigated the effects of performing an additional collaborative conversation task, and of initial tempo and phase differences in the instructed rhythms. The analysis was based on cross wavelet and synchrosqueezed transforms. The overall conclusion was that a mechanical coupling was effective in support of interpersonal synchronization, specifically when dyads were explicitly instructed to synchronize using the movable platform (instructed synchronization). On the other hand, results showed that mechanical coupling led only minimally to spontaneous interpersonal synchronization. The collaborative task and the initial phase and tempo have no strong effect. Although more research is required, possible applications can be found in the domains of music education, dance and music performance, sports, and well-being.
Many conventional interval timing tasks do not contain asymmetric cost (loss) functions and thereby favor high temporal accuracy. On the other hand, asymmetric cost functions that differentially penalize/reinforce the early or late responses result in adaptive biases (shift) in timed responses due to timing uncertainty. Consequently, optimal performance in these tasks entails the normative parametrization of adaptive timing biases by the level of timing uncertainty. Differential reinforcement of response duration (DRRD) is one of these tasks that require mice to actively respond (e.g., continuously depressing a lever) for a minimum amount of time to be reinforced. The active production of a time interval by mice in DRRD differentiates this task from the differential reinforcement of low rates of responding (DRL) task as a passive waiting task that was used in earlier studies to investigate the optimality of adaptive biases in timing behavior. We tested 21 Th-Cre male mice (9 weeks old) in a DRRD task with a minimum requirement of 2 s. Mean response durations were positively biased (longer than the minimum requirement), and the extent of bias was predicted by the level of endogenous timing uncertainty. Mice nearly maximized the reward rate in this task. These results contribute to the accumulating evidence supporting optimal temporal risk assessment in non-human animals.
Individuals adapt to their environments by scheduling cognitive processing capacities selectively to the points in time where they are most likely required. This effect is known as time-based expectancy (TBE) and has been demonstrated for several cognitive capacities, like perceptual attention, task set activation, or response preparation. However, it has been argued that self-related cognition (i.e., processing of information linked to oneself) is universally prioritized, compared to non-self-related information in the cognitive system. Consequently, self-related cognition should be resistant to temporal scheduling by TBE, because individuals maintain a constantly high expectancy for self-related cognition, irrespective of its temporal likeliness. We tested this hypothesis in a task-switching paradigm where participants randomly switched between a self-related task and a neutral task. The tasks were preceded by a short or a long warning interval in each trial, and the interval duration predicted probabilistically the task type. We found that participants showed TBE for the neutral task but not for the self-related task. We conclude that the individual cannot benefit from time-based task expectancy when the to-be-expected task is constantly activated, due to its self-related nature.
The aim of this study was twofold. First, our objective was to test the influence of an object’s actual size (size rank) on the drawn size of the depicted object. We tested the canonical size effect (i.e., drawing objects larger in the physical world as larger) in four drawing conditions — two perceptual conditions (blindfolded or sighted) crossed with two materials (paper or special foil for producing embossed drawings). Second, we investigated whether drawing quality (we analysed both the local and global criteria of quality) depends on drawing conditions. We predicted that drawing quality, unlike drawing size, would vary according to drawing conditions — namely, being higher when foil than paper was used for drawing production in the blindfolded condition. We tested these hypotheses with young adults who repeatedly drew eight different familiar objects (differentiated by size in the real world) in four drawing conditions. As expected, drawn size increased linearly with increasing size rank, whatever the drawing condition, thus replicating the canonical size effect and showing that this effect was not dependent on drawing conditions. In line with our hypothesis, in the blindfolded condition drawing quality was better when foil rather than paper was used, suggesting a benefit from haptic feedback on the trace produced. Besides, the quality of drawings produced was still higher in the sighted than the blindfolded condition. In conclusion, canonical size is present under different drawing conditions regardless of whether sight is involved or not, while perceptual control increases drawing quality in adults.
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