Biological mechanisms of timekeeping (interval timing)
To disscociate the biological substrates of timekeeping and attention to time, we develop new behavioral paradigms, we manipulate brain circuits by systemic and locally administered drugs, or using optogenetics, we record neural activity in specific key areas in rats and genetically engineered mice, with relevance to disorders such as Addiction, Autism, Mental Retardation, Huntington's and Parkison's, and Schizophrenia. For example, in collaboration with Dr. Mona Buhusi of Utah State University, we are currently investigating interval timing and decision making in animal models of Parkinson's.
Emotion and Timing in the Brain
Emotional processing is dysregulated in affective disorders such as depression, phobias, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Among the processes impaired by emotional distracters, and whose dysregulation is documented in affective disorders, is the ability to keep track of time (interval timing). We are currently investigating the interaction between emotion, working memory, and timing, using a variety of behavioral and pharmacological manipulations.
Computational mechanisms of timekeeping (interval timing)
Data from interval timing experiments is being integrated using a variety of theoretical models; new algorithms are being developped for data analysis. Recent modeling efforts are focused on the role of "neural noise" in timekeeping. Most notably, in collaboration with Dr. Sorinel Oprisan of College of Charleston, we recently demonstrated that the fundamantal property of interval timing -- the scalar property -- naturally emerges in simple circuits from "neural noise".