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MINDTIME Report Summary

Project ID: 263584
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: France

Final Report Summary - MINDTIME (From implicit timing in the brain to explicit time abstraction in the mind.)

MindTime started to link the dynamics of human brain activity (timing) with the conscious experience of time (time perception and cognition). The temporal structure of brain dynamics serve canonical operations that are relevant to the temporal structuring of mental events at all temporal scales: in particular, neural oscillations may mediate as diverse functional purposes as speech processing, attentional selection, working memory or conscious awareness. One major question MindTime addressed was whether distinct neurophysiological markers could index the structuring of events in time specifically for temporal cognition. MindTime provided evidence of non-stationarity in the phase of entrained neural oscillations (Kösem et al., 2014), suggesting the possibility of endogenous regulation of time metrics for the representation of mental events in time (van Wassenhove, 2016, 2017a,b). In the absence of entrainment, spontaneous oscillatory fluctuations were difficult to interpret (Grabot et al., 2017) unless the external observer took into account the participants’ structural priors in the serial ordering of sensory events (Grabot & van Wassenhove, 2017). These structural priors or biases bear relevance for the study of temporal coherence in multisensory integration (Kösem & van Wassenhove, 2012; van Wassenhove, 2013; Zilber et al., 2014; Martin et al., 2015; Pesnot et al, in prep). Altogether, these results suggest that neural indices of event timing dedicated to temporal cognition can be demarcated from generic markers of perception/cognition while naturally constraining perceptual and cognitive processes (e.g. in speech: Kösem et al, 2016a,b). Additional findings suggested the possibility that predictive coding of events may intervene in computing duration (Lecoutre & van Wassenhove, 2015). Another line of research raised the importance of beta oscillations in setting self-generated timing goals that are accessible for temporal metacognition (Kononowicz et al., under review). The development of novel methods to assess cross-frequency-coupling (Dupré La Tour et al., 2017) enabled to find markers of temporal precision of event representation in the coupling of alpha phase - beta power (Grabot, Kononowicz et al., 2017, under review). Finally, MindTime emphasized the theoretical and empirical importance of distinguishing dimensions of space and time both in their magnitude representation (Lambrechts et al., 2012; Martin et al., 2017) and in their high-level mental representations (Gauthier & van Wassenhove, 2016a,b, Gauthier et al, under review). Altogether, the series of experiment conducted in MindTime point to the uniqueness of the psychological arrow of time through the (re-)ordering of mental events in time.

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