Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The concept of a temporal integration process in the timing mechanisms in the brain, postulated on the basis of experimental observations from various paradigms (for a review see P$oUppel, 1978), has been explored in a sensorimotor synchronization task. Subjects synchronized their finger taps to sequences of auditory stimuli with interstimulus-onset intervals (ISIs) between 300 and 4800 msec in different trials. Each tonal sequence consisted of 110 stimuli; the tones had a frequency of 500 Hz and a duration of 100 msec. As observed previously, response onsets preceded onsets of the stimuli by some tens of milliseconcls for ISIs in the range from about 600 to 1800 msec. For ISIs longer than or equal to 2400 msec, the ability to time the response sequence in such a way that the response 5 were placed right ahead of the stimuli started to break clown, i.e., the task was fulfilled by reactions to the stimuli rather than by advanced responses. This observation can he understood within the general framework of a temporal integration puce 55 that is supposed to have a maximal capacity (integration interval) of approximately 3 sec. Only if successive stimuli fall within one integration period, can motor programs be initiated properly by a prior stimulus and thus lead to an appropriate synchronization between the stimulus sequence and corresponding motor acts.