Musicians can perform at different tempos, speakers can control the cadence of their speech, and children can flexibly vary their temporal expectations of events. To understand the neural basis of such flexible timing, we recorded from the medial frontal cortex of primates trained to produce different time intervals with different effectors. The activity of neurons was heterogeneous, nonlinear and complex. However, responses were unified under a remarkable form of invariance: firing rate profiles were temporally stretched for longer intervals and compressed for short ones. At the network level, this phenomenon was evident by flexible changes in the speed with which the population activity traced an invariant trajectory. To identify the origin of speed control, we recorded from both downstream caudate neurons and thalamic neurons projecting to the medial frontal cortex. Speed adjustments were a prominent feature in the caudate but not in the thalamus suggesting that this phenomenon originates within cortical networks. To understand the underlying mechanisms, we created recurrent neural network models at different levels of complexity that could explain flexible timing with speed control. Analysis of the models revealed that the key to flexible speed control was the action of an external input upon the nonlinearities of individual neurons whose recurrent interactions set the network relaxation dynamics. These findings demonstrate a simple and general mechanism for conferring temporal flexibility upon sensorimotor and cognitive functions.
- Downloaded 1,874 times
- Download rankings, all-time:
- Site-wide: 11,487
- In neuroscience: 1,170
- Year to date:
- Site-wide: 75,309
- Since beginning of last month:
- Site-wide: 156,885
Downloads over time
Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide
- 27 Nov 2020: The website and API now include results pulled from medRxiv as well as bioRxiv.
- 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
- 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
- 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
- 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
- 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
- 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
- 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
- 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!