Time processing is important in several cognitive and motor functions, but it is still unclear how the human brain perceives time intervals of different durations. Processing of time in millisecond and second intervals may depend on different neural networks and there is now considerable evidence to suggest that these intervals are possibly measured by independent brain mechanisms. Using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), we determined that the cerebellum is essential in explicit temporal processing of millisecond time intervals. In the first experiment, subjects' performance in a time reproduction task of short (400-600 ms) and long (1,600-2,400 ms) intervals, were evaluated immediately after application of inhibitory rTMS trains over the left and right lateral cerebellum (Cb) and the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). We found that rTMS over the lateral cerebellum impaired time perception in the short interval (millisecond range) only; for the second range intervals, impaired timing was found selectively for stimulation of the right DLPFC. In the second experiment, we observed that cerebellar involvement in millisecond time processing was evident when the time intervals were encoded but not when they were retrieved from memory. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the cerebellum can be considered as an internal timing system, deputed to assess millisecond time intervals.
- Time perception
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas