Bueti D, Bahrami B, Walsh V, & Rees G. Encoding of temporal probabilities in the human brain. Journal of Neuroscience. 2010 Mar 24, 30(12), 4343-4352.
Anticipating the timing of future events is a necessary precursor to preparing actions and allocating resources to sensory processing. This requires elapsed time to be represented in the brain and used to predict the temporal probability of upcoming events. While neuropsychological, imaging, magnetic stimulation studies, and single-unit recordings implicate the role of higher parietal and motor-related areas in temporal estimation, the role of earlier, purely sensory structures remains more controversial. Here we demonstrate that the temporal probability of expected visual events is encoded not by a single area but by a wide network that importantly includes neuronal populations at the very earliest cortical stages of visual processing. Moreover, we show that activity in those areas changes dynamically in a manner that closely accords with temporal expectations.
PMID: 20335470 [PubMed - in process]