The evolution of brain activation during temporal processing.
Timing is crucial to many aspects of human performance. To better understand its neural underpinnings, we used event-related fMRI to examine the time course of activation associated with different components of a time perception task. We distinguished systems associated with encoding time intervals from those related to comparing intervals and implementing a response. Activation in the basal ganglia occurred early, and was uniquely associated with encoding time intervals, whereas cerebellar activation unfolded late, suggesting an involvement in processes other than explicit timing. Early cortical activation associated with encoding of time intervals was observed in the right inferior parietal cortex and bilateral premotor cortex, implicating these systems in attention and temporary maintenance of intervals. Late activation in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex emerged during comparison of time intervals. Our results illustrate a dynamic network of cortical-subcortical activation associated with different components of temporal information processing.