Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
In everyday life, temporal information is used for both perception and action, but whether these two functions reflect the operation of similar or different neural circuits is unclear. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the neural correlates of processing temporal information when either a motor or a perceptual representation is used. Participants viewed two identical sequences of visual stimuli and used the information differently to perform either a temporal reproduction or a temporal estimation task. By comparing brain activity evoked by these tasks and control conditions, we explored commonalities and differences in brain areas involved in reproduction and estimation of temporal intervals. The basal ganglia and the cerebellum were commonly active in both temporal tasks, consistent with suggestions that perception and production of time are subserved by the same mechanisms. However, only in the reproduction task was activity observed in a wider cortical network including the right pre-SMA, left middle frontal gyrus, left premotor cortex, with a more reliable activity in the right inferior parietal cortex, left fusiform gyrus, and the right extrastriate visual area V5/MT. Our findings point to a role for the parietal cortex as an interface between sensory and motor processes and suggest that it may be a key node in translation of temporal information into action. Furthermore, we discuss the potential importance of the extrastriate cortex in processing visual time in the context of recent findings.