Dr. Hugo Merchant

"Neurophysiology of the perception of the passage of time in the primate frontal lobe."

Dr. Hugo Merchant currently working at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México as an Investigator.

Hugo about his research

"Interval timing is a complex process that is not linked exclusively to any sensory modality, but that is involved in a broad spectrum of behaviors, ranging from object interception and collision avoidance to musical performance and speech.  Furthermore, interval timing is exhibited by a wide variety of vertebrates including rats, monkeys and humans.  The ability to use interval timing is very flexible and organisms have exquisite control of the onset and offset of time estimation depending on the contingencies of the environment.  In fact, this “stopwatch” property and its independence from periodic events in the environment, distinguish interval timing from circadian timing.

In addition, interval timing is influenced by other processes, such as attention and memory, which interact with the mechanism of presumed internal clocks. A substantial amount of functional imaging research suggests that the cortico-thalamic-basal ganglia loop (CTBG) is directly involved in temporal information processing. Specifically, the pre-SMA, SMA, as well as the putamen seem to play a crucial role in the quantification of the passage of time in the hundreds of milliseconds range. My lab has developed a large research program to study the neurophysiological basis of time perception and time production in human and non-human primates, with emphasis on the study of the time encoding abilities pre-SMA, SMA and the putamen during the execution of rhythmic tapping tasks and the categorization of time intervals."

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