Conclusions

One of the future challenges in this field is to determine the neural mechanisms of the various components of timing. It is through the integration of information from a variety of approaches like lesions, brain imaging, and electrophysiology that we strive to understand the neural basis of timing. In this chapter, we have attempted to bring together results from the various approaches. Initial attempts at mapping brain areas to the components of SET have been made, which suggest that the basal ganglia and cerebellum have clock functions, while the temporal cortex and frontal cortex support reference memory (see Malapani and Rakitin, this volume; Meck, 1996). This type of mapping of brain areas to functional components in the timing system is only the first step. Future studies will need to define how cell assemblies in different brain areas contribute to timing. In this vein, we have presented our first step to understand the manner in which neurons in the frontal motor cortex may be important in short-interval timing (i.e., by influencing divided attention). We are just at the beginning of understanding timing at the neuronal level. Only by actively integrating results from human and animal studies, using multiple research approaches, can we continue to make progress in understanding the functional and neural basis of timing.

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