Penn State professor has timing down to a science

Centre (Pa.) Daily TimesNovember 29, 2009 

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Our daily life is a sequence of actions that we time precisely. But, until now, how we keep track of time has been a mystery.

Groups of neurons, or brain cells, track time in all primates, according to a team of researchers that published its findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month.

The team is made up of a physicist — Penn State assistant professor Dezhe Jin — and two neuroscientists, Ann Graybiel, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Naotaka Fujii, from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan.

Unlike in previous timing experiments, the researchers did not instruct the subjects, two monkeys, to track time. But the monkeys did so anyway. That means that our brains are always keeping track of where we are in time, Jin says.

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