Repository logo

Mechanisms of timing: an integrative theoretical approach




Pantlin, Lara N., author
Davalos, Deana, advisor
Prince, Mark, advisor
Malcolm, Matthew, committee member
Rojas, Don, committee member

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Accurate timing allows individuals to perform essential tasks to meet societal demands, such as scheduling, responding to warning signals and planning. Since timing impacts various functions, understanding the meaning of a timing deficit is necessary. Poor performance in neurophysiological measures of timing has been related to psychopathology but has not specifically been related to one's ability to plan or maintain a schedule. Inability to track elapsed time as done in behavioral tasks is often related to poor performance in academic settings, but the intricacies of how inaccurate timing in one task manifests in other timing tasks has not been examined. The present study proposes a comprehensive examination of timing by dividing the field into three sub-domains: neurophysiological, behavioral, and applied temporal processing. These sub-domains are organized based on the tasks traditionally used to assess timing. Neurophysiological timing (Level I) was assessed using a duration-based mismatch negativity paradigm (dMMN), which fundamentally requires minimal cognitive resources. Behavioral timing (Level II) introduces the role of attention and working memory to accurately determine the amount of elapsed time (verbal estimation) or the generation of a pause, which reflects a specified amount of time (interval production). These tasks do not require the higher-order cognitive functions such as decision making and planning which are needed to accurately perform applied temporal processing tasks (e.g., time management and scheduling) (Level III). Hypothesis I proposed a hierarchical relationship among the three subdomains in which each succeeding level in the mediation is informed by the previous one and is distinct from the others based on the amount of cognition required to perform the task. Hypothesis II not only offered an extension of Hypothesis I, but also sought to examine the ways timing can be systematically improved through intervention methods. Across two time-points, participants were screened for select psychopathologies often associated with timing deficits (e.g., psychosis, traumatic brain injury, and substance use), underwent EEG recordings of dMMN to measure neurophysiology (Level I), performed two behavioral timing tasks (verbal estimation and interval production) (Level II), and completed three measures of applied temporal processing (letter-number sequencing and two time management surveys) (Level III). Hypothesis I was analyzed using a mediation model where neurophysiology (Level I) is expected to inform behavioral performance (Level II), which would subsequently influence accuracy on applied tasks (Level III). Hypothesis II was analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVAs to assess which intervention increases accuracy between time-points. Although Hypothesis I yielded nonsignificant results, interesting trends in the expected direction existed. Higher responses on the neurophysiological tasks were related to higher accuracy on behavioral and applied temporal processing measures. Hypothesis II yielded significant interactions between session and intervention and overall, suggested that using feedback to calibrate individuals to their abilities is the most appropriate intervention technique for increasing behavioral and applied accuracy. However, inclusion of tasks evaluating intermediate stages of timing is required if a full scale time continuum is to be modeled. Yet, this work provided the initial groundwork to further investigate the way time-related information is handled in the healthy brain.


2019 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.

Rights Access


mismatch negativity
time management
temporal processing
behavioral timing
time perception


Associated Publications