For decades, scientists have believed that the brain has an internal clock that allows it to keep track of time. But a study published Thursday in the journal Neuron proposed a new model in which changes to the brain's cells help the brain monitor the passage of time.
"The value of this research lies in understanding how the brain works," said Dean Buonomano, associate professor of neurobiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and a member of the university's Brain Research Institute. "Many complex human behaviors -- from understanding speech to playing catch to performing music -- rely on the brain's ability to accurately tell time. Yet no one knows how the brain does it."
Time-related information is critical to understanding speech, so determining how the brain tells time is an important step toward understanding the causes of diseases that impair linguistic abilities, he said.