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      Dysfunctional Timing in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients: Co-occurrence of Cognitive, Motor, and Perceptual Deficits


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          Timing is an essential part of human cognition and of everyday life activities, such as walking or holding a conversation. Previous studies showed that traumatic brain injury (TBI) often affects cognitive functions such as processing speed and time-sensitive abilities, causing long-term sequelae as well as daily impairments. However, the existing evidence on timing capacities in TBI is mostly limited to perception and the processing of isolated intervals. It is therefore open whether the observed deficits extend to motor timing and to continuous dynamic tasks that more closely match daily life activities. The current study set out to answer these questions by assessing audio motor timing abilities and their relationship with cognitive functioning in a group of TBI patients ( n = 15) and healthy matched controls. We employed a comprehensive set of tasks aiming at testing timing abilities across perception and production and from single intervals to continuous auditory sequences. In line with previous research, we report functional impairments in TBI patients concerning cognitive processing speed and perceptual timing. Critically, these deficits extended to motor timing: The ability to adjust to tempo changes in an auditory pacing sequence was impaired in TBI patients, and this motor timing deficit covaried with measures of processing speed. These findings confirm previous evidence on perceptual and cognitive timing deficits resulting from TBI and provide first evidence for comparable deficits in motor behavior. This suggests basic co-occurring perceptual and motor timing impairments that may factor into a wide range of daily activities. Our results thus place TBI into the wider range of pathologies with well-documented timing deficits (such as Parkinson’s disease) and encourage the search for novel timing-based therapeutic interventions (e.g., employing dynamic and/or musical stimuli) with high transfer potential to everyday life activities.

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          Most cited references69

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            What makes us tick? Functional and neural mechanisms of interval timing.

            Time is a fundamental dimension of life. It is crucial for decisions about quantity, speed of movement and rate of return, as well as for motor control in walking, speech, playing or appreciating music, and participating in sports. Traditionally, the way in which time is perceived, represented and estimated has been explained using a pacemaker-accumulator model that is not only straightforward, but also surprisingly powerful in explaining behavioural and biological data. However, recent advances have challenged this traditional view. It is now proposed that the brain represents time in a distributed manner and tells the time by detecting the coincidental activation of different neural populations.
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                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                18 October 2021
                : 12
                : 731898
                [1] 1Research Group Comparative Bioacoustics, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics , Nijmegen, Netherlands
                [2] 2Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Maastricht University , Maastricht, Netherlands
                [3] 3Zuyderland Medical Centre, Department of Medical Psychology , Sittard, Netherlands
                [4] 4Limburg Brain Injury Center, Maastricht University , Maastricht, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Edited by: Floris Tijmen Van Vugt, Université de Montréal, Canada

                Reviewed by: Anna Zamm, Aarhus University, Denmark; M. Florencia Assaneo, New York University, United States; André Lee, Hanover University of Music Drama and Media, Germany

                *Correspondence: Laura Verga, laura.verga@ 123456mpi.nl

                This article was submitted to Cognitive Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2021 Verga, Schwartze, Stapert, Winkens and Kotz.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 28 June 2021
                : 27 September 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 69, Pages: 10, Words: 8571
                Original Research

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                traumatic brain injury,timing,attention,sensorimotor synchronization,processing speed,sdmt = symbol digit modalities test,digit span


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