Remembering the time: a continuous clock

Penelope A. Lewis, R. Chris Miall

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The neural mechanisms for time measurement are currently a subject of much debate. This article argues that our brains can measure time using the same dorsolateral prefrontal cells that are known to be involved in working memory. Evidence for this is: (1) the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is integral to both cognitive timing and working memory; (2) both behavioural processes are modulated by dopamine and disrupted by manipulation of dopaminergic projections to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; (3) the neurons in question ramp their activity in a temporally predictable way during both types of processing; and (4) this ramping activity is modulated by dopamine. The dual involvement of these prefrontal neurons in working memory and cognitive timing supports a view of the prefrontal cortex as a multipurpose processor recruited by a wide variety of tasks. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)401-406
    Number of pages5
    JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


    • physiology: Attention
    • physiology: Awareness
    • physiology: Brain
    • Brain Mapping
    • physiology: Cognition
    • physiology: Dopamine
    • Humans
    • physiology: Memory, Short-Term
    • physiology: Mental Recall
    • physiology: Neural Pathways
    • physiology: Neurons
    • physiology: Prefrontal Cortex
    • physiology: Time Perception


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