Introduction

In 1890, William James framed a profound and enduring question: "To what cerebral process is the sense of time due?" Only in the last few decades have sophisticated imaging techniques been developed that allow us to begin to propose some tentative answers. This chapter provides an overview of neuroimaging methods and their application to research on interval timing. First, I will compare the various structural and functional neuroimaging methods, focusing on their strengths and limitations. Following is a brief review of some of the existing neuroimaging data on interval timing. Then, I will present three functional magnetic resonance imaging studies to illustrate a variety of different analysis approaches using this method. The chapter concludes with some thoughts on where functional imaging research on interval timing may go from here.

The primary neuroimaging techniques used to assess brain structure and function are presented in the top and bottom panels, respectively, of Table 17.1. These procedures are characterized in terms of their relative invasiveness and repeatability, how finely they can resolve neural activation in space and over time, the physical energy source they use, the physiological property that they measure, and their most significant limitations. The neuroimaging techniques and their properties will be discussed in greater detail below.

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