Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The brain clock in children: How early?

Again, more from my reading of Meck's edited text on the brain clock and interval timing. This time from Sylvie Droit-Volet's chapter on "Temporal experience and timing in children." Dr. Droit-Volet has published extensively on the developmental aspects of the brain clock in children. [I've got at least a half dozen of her articles in my "to read" folder....I just don't have enough time]

Below are some select quotes/conclusions. The bottom line (from my reading) is that the human temporal processing unit (aka. the brain block) is present in young children and research suggests it functions, in most respects, similar to the adult brain clock. One similarity is that auditory information appears to be processed more efficiently by the human brain clock. Also, attention is a critical ability in temporal processing. Below are some tidbits from the chapter (emphasis added by the Time Doc blogmaster).
  • These findings suggest that the clock-based system underlying time perception in animals and human adults is functional at an early age.
  • There is ample evidence that auditory stimuli are judged longer than equivalent visual stimuli, and visual stimuli shorter than auditory ones....Thus, for the same the same objective duration, more pulses are accumulated for auditory signals than for visual signals, and the subjective time seems longer.
  • However, it has been argued that differences in pacemaker speed are not the main source of variability in a timing system...In fact, according to scalar timing theory, the main source of variance is in the memory-encoding process.

  • The greater sensitivity to duration for auditory than for visual stimuli in younger children suggests a sort of primacy of audition over vision in the processing off temporal information. This is an old idea, already put forward by studies in infants perception of temporal characteristics of speech sound and rhythms.
  • The most critical process in children's abilities to time events is probably the encoding of duration.
  • Difficulties in the encoding of duration can also account for the high variability in the memory representation of the standard duration in young children. Indeed, the memory representation is the result of how it has been encoded. Among the cognitive processes involved in the encoding of duration, we have specifically investigated the of attention. 202
  • Psychologists agree that the amount of attentional resources increases with age durring early development.

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