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Interval Timing

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

By Peter Balsam, Columbia.

All adaptive behavior is organized in time. This organization occurs on time scales ranging from milliseconds to months. There are different mechanisms associated with the different time scales. However, each mechanism appears to be quite general across behavior systems and species. Circadian timing is the best understood of these mechanisms. In this talk I focus on timing of arbitrary intervals in the seconds to hours range. There is an emerging consensus that animals automatically store quantitative information about event durations and precise temporal information about the relationship between events. Furthermore, this information can be used in very flexible ways to anticipate the future and to solve problems. Like circadian timing, the properties of interval timing are quite general across behavior systems and species suggesting that the formal properties of interval timing arise from fundamental properties of neurons or networks. Several classes of models that might give rise to these properties will be brought up for discussion.

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