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Edited by Argiro Vatakis, Warren Meck and Hedderik van Rijn

Timing is ever-present in our everyday life – from the ringing sounds of the alarm clock to our ability to walk, dance, remember, and communicate with others. This intimate relationship has lead scientists from different disciplines to investigate time and to explore how individuals perceive, process, and effectively use timing in their daily activities.
Timing & Time Perception aims to be the forum for all psychophysical, neuroimaging, pharmacological, computational, and theoretical advances on the topic of timing and time perception in humans and other animals. We envision a multidisciplinary approach to the topics covered, including the synergy of: Neuroscience and Philosophy for understanding the concept of time, Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence for adapting basic research to artificial agents, Psychiatry, Neurology, Behavioral and Computational Sciences for neuro-rehabilitation and modeling of the disordered brain, to name just a few.
Given the ubiquity of interval timing, this journal will host all basic studies, including interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary works on timing and time perception and serve as a forum for discussion and extension of current knowledge on the topic.
Online submission: Articles for publication in Timing & Time Perception can be submitted online through Editorial Manager, please click here.
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Warren H. Meck, Argiro Vatakis and Hedderik van Rijn

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Jessica I. Lake, Warren H. Meck and Kevin S. LaBar

Discriminative fear conditioning requires learning to dissociate between safety cues and cues that predict negative outcomes yet little is known about what processes contribute to discriminative fear learning. According to attentional models of time perception, processes that distract from timing result in temporal underestimation. If discriminative fear learning only requires learning what cues predict what outcomes, and threatening stimuli distract attention from timing, then better discriminative fear learning should predict greater temporal distortion on threat trials. Alternatively, if discriminative fear learning also reflects a more accurate perceptual experience of time in threatening contexts, discriminative fear learning scores would predict less temporal distortion on threat trials, as time is perceived more veridically. Healthy young adults completed discriminative fear conditioning in which they learned to associate one stimulus (CS+) with aversive electrical stimulation and another stimulus (CS−) with non-aversive tactile stimulation and then an ordinal-comparison timing task during which CSs were presented as task-irrelevant distractors. Consistent with predictions, we found an overall temporal underestimation bias on CS+ relative to CS− trials. Differential skin conductance responses to the CS+ versus the CS− during conditioning served as a physiological index of discriminative fear conditioning and this measure predicted the magnitude of the underestimation bias, such that individuals exhibiting greater discriminative fear conditioning showed less underestimation on CS+ versus CS− trials. These results are discussed with respect to the nature of discriminative fear learning and the relationship between temporal distortions and maladaptive threat processing in anxiety.

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Melissa J. Allman, Trevor B. Penney and Warren H. Meck

Basic mechanisms of interval timing and associative learning are shared by many animal species, and develop quickly in early life, particularly across infancy, and childhood. Indeed, John Wearden in his book “The Psychology of Time Perception”, which is based on decades of his own research with colleagues, and which our commentary serves to primarily review, has been instrumental in implementing animal models and methods in children and adults, and has revealed important similarities (and differences) between human timing (and that of animals) when considered within the context of scalar timing theory. These seminal studies provide a firm foundation upon which the contemporary multifaceted field of timing and time perception has since advanced. The contents of the book are arguably one piece of a larger puzzle, and as Wearden cautions, “The reader is warned that my own contribution to the field has been exaggerated here, but if you are not interested in your own work, why would anyone else be?” Surely there will be many interested readers, however the book is noticeably lacking in it neurobiological perspective. The mind (however it is conceived) needs a brain (even if behaviorists tend to say “the brain behaves”, and most neuroscientists currently have a tenuous grasp on the neural mechanisms of temporal cognition), and to truly understand the psychology of time, brain and behavior must go hand in hand regardless of the twists, turns, and detours along the way.

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Christopher J. MacDonald, Norbert J. Fortin, Shogo Sakata and Warren H. Meck

The overlap of neural circuits involved in episodic memory, relational learning, trace conditioning, and interval timing suggests the importance of hippocampal-dependent processes. Identifying the functional and neural mechanisms whereby the hippocampus plays a role in timing and decision-making, however, has been elusive. In this article we describe recent neurobiological findings, including the discovery of hippocampal ‘time cells’, dependency of duration discriminations in the minutes range on hippocampal function, and the correlation of hippocampal theta rhythm with specific features of temporal processing. These results provide novel insights into the ways in which the hippocampus might interact with the striatum in order to support both retrospective and prospective timing. Suggestions are also provided for future research on the role of the hippocampus in memory for elapsed time.

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David Aagten-Murphy, John R. Iversen, Christina L. Williams and Warren H. Meck

Animals, including fish, birds, rodents, non-human primates, and pre-verbal infants are able to discriminate the duration and number of events without the use of language. In this paper, we present the results of six experiments exploring the capability of adult rats to count 2–6 sequentially presented white-noise stimuli. The investigation focuses on the animal’s ability to exhibit spontaneous subtraction following the presentation of novel stimulus inversions in the auditory signals being counted. Results suggest that a subtraction operation between two opposite sensory representations may be a general processing strategy used for the comparison of stimulus magnitudes. These findings are discussed within the context of a mode-control model of timing and counting that relies on an analog temporal-integration process for the addition and subtraction of sequential events.

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Nancy L. Dallal, Bin Yin, Tereza Nekovářová, Aleš Stuchlík and Warren H. Meck

Bilateral intratympanic sodium arsenate injections (100 mg/ml in isotonic saline) in adult male Long Evans rats produced impairments in allocentric navigation using a 12-arm radial maze procedure as well as a motor test battery designed to evaluate vestibular function. In contrast, no impairments in the accuracy or precision of duration reproduction using 20-s and 80-s peak-interval procedures were observed when both target durations were associated with the same lever response, but distinguished by signal modality (e.g., light or sound). In contrast, an ordinal-reproduction procedure with 800, 3200, and 12,800 ms standards requiring the timing of self-initiated movements during the production phase revealed large impairments in the accuracy and precision of timing for vestibular lesioned rats. These impairments were greater on trials in which self-initiated body movements (e.g., holding down the response lever for a fixed duration) were required without the support of external stimuli signaling the onset and offset of the reproduced duration in contrast to trials in which such external support was provided. The conclusion is that space and time are separable entities and not simply the product of a generalized system, but they can be integrated into a common metric using gravity and self-initiated movement as a reference.

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Ruey-Kuang Cheng, Jason Tipples, Nandakumar S. Narayanan and Warren H. Meck

Although fear-producing treatments (e.g., electric shock) and pleasure-inducing treatments (e.g., methamphetamine) have different emotional valences, they both produce physiological arousal and lead to effects on timing and time perception that have been interpreted as reflecting an increase in speed of an internal clock. In this commentary, we review the results reported by Fayolle et al. (2015): Behav. Process., 120, 135–140) and Meck (1983: J. Exp. Psychol. Anim. Behav. Process., 9, 171–201) using electric shock and by Maricq et al. (1981: J. Exp. Psychol. Anim. Behav. Process., 7, 18–30) using methamphetamine in a duration-bisection procedure across multiple duration ranges. The psychometric functions obtained from this procedure relate the proportion ‘long’ responses to signal durations spaced between a pair of ‘short’ and ‘long’ anchor durations. Horizontal shifts in these functions can be described in terms of attention or arousal processes depending upon whether they are a fixed number of seconds independent of the timed durations (additive) or proportional to the durations being timed (multiplicative). Multiplicative effects are thought to result from a change in clock speed that is regulated by dopamine activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. These dopaminergic effects are discussed within the context of the striatal beat frequency model of interval timing (Matell & Meck, 2004: Cogn. Brain Res., 21, 139–170) and clinical implications for the effects of emotional reactivity on temporal cognition (Parker et al., 2013: Front. Integr. Neurosci., 7, 75).