About this Research Topic
Interval timing on a supra-second scale and nonverbal counting constitute examples of the ubiquitous and arguably evolutionarily shared ability of humans and other animals to keep track of and cognize continuous and discrete quantities. Mental representations of these quantities are in turn crucial for capturing the biologically critical regularities in one’s environment and making adaptive decisions in ecologically relevant settings (e.g., matching and inter-temporal choice).
Across decades, research has focused on the elucidation of the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie the time and number senses, the life-long developmental trajectory of the resultant quantity representations, and the inter-species commonalities in their psychophysical features. Although crucial overlaps exist in the brain areas recruited during timing and counting tasks, a thorough explanation of how neurons integrate time and number is lacking. On the other hand, researchers have demonstrated the clinical relevance of timing and counting, sometimes treating them as putative endophenotypes of a specific class of disorders such as those associated with dopaminergic dysfunction (e.g., Parkinson’s Disease, Schizophrenia, ADHD), and at other times targeting the more directly relevant conditions such as dyscalculia or autism spectrum disorders. These form the complementary and translational angles that have led to our current, but far-from-complete, understanding of time and number sense. Thus, there is need for further scientific cross-talk and renewed conceptual integration between various lines of contemporary interval timing and counting research.
We propose a research topic that aims to consolidate recent developments in the behavioral, psychophysical, neuroimaging, clinical, and theoretical study of interval timing and counting with a specific emphasis on the behavioral, physiological and translational overlaps between these functions.
Keywords: Interval Timing, Numerosity, Counting, Mental Magnitudes, Psychophysics