Call for papers: Rhythm and synchrony in animal movement and communication

Call for original research manuscripts for a Special Column: Rhythm and synchrony in animal movement and communication. Manuscripts will be guest edited by Andrea Ravignani and published by Current Zoology, an Open Access journal from Oxford University Press, funded in 1935. Open Access fees will be waived for this issue. Interested contributors should send a title to the editor ( before February, 1st, 2018. Details can be found here: or

Kind regards

Andrea Ravignani
Veterinary & Research Dpt., Sealcentre Pieterburen
Max Planck Inst. for Psycholinguistics
AI-Lab, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

TRF Newsletter June 2017

Dear all,
We are pleased to share the June 2017 Newsletter of the Timing Research Forum (TRF). This is a special newsletter edition as TRF turns 1 year old this month! We also have a number of updates regarding the 1st TRF Conference in Strasbourg, France. Exciting times!
It was exactly a year ago, in June 2016, that Argie and Sundeep formally announced TRF and its website – Since then, we’ve come a long way and have had the honor of bringing together and serving more than 570 members who share common research interests in timing and time perception. The incredible response confirmed our belief that there is a real gap in the scientific community for those who study how we (and other species) encode and perceive time in a number of domains, be it speech, music, vision, movement, etc. using a variety of methodological approaches at different levels of analysis (from single cell dynamics to macroscopic representations).
Time is a fundamental concept that has long been examined in various disciplines including philosophy, psychology, neurology, physics, computer science, robotics and, more recently, neuroscience. We formed TRF in an attempt to bring all this knowledge closer together through an open society focused on timing and time perception and serve as a platform to enhance the cross-fertilization across these diverse disciplines.
We have a long way to go until we solve the mystery of timing and we hope that working together as a community will help us get there sooner than later! TRF would like to thank its membership for supporting its mission and motivating us to support a vibrant and diverse timing research community!


TRF has a number of channels through which it communicates to its members and the wider scientific community. These include traditional platforms like the website and internal newsletters and mailing lists. We have also adopted the use of social media platforms, which are increasingly helpful in connecting researchers with similar interests and allow rapid sharing of information. TRF is very active on a number of platforms, including ResearchGate, Twitter and Facebook through which it circulates several items of interest including newsletters, community updates, conference, jobs, grants and publication alerts. If you are an active user on any of these networks, do follow us to receive and share news and updates related to timing research –
ResearchGate (271 followers)
Twitter (255 followers)
Facebook (300 followers)


In October 2016, we launched TRF Blogs (, a platform to publish, share and discuss reviews of recent articles on time perception. We have been lucky to have six highly motivated and talented early-career PhD students and postdoctoral researchers who have contributed 34 articles!
Thanks to their drive and commitment, the blog has become the de-facto platform to seek and understand the latest and most significant articles related to timing research. TRF would like to express its gratitude to the bloggers who have made it their mission to highlight, for the benefit of the TRF community, the cutting-edge in the field of time perception:
1. Mukesh MakwanaCentre of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Allahabad, India
2. Bowen J FungUniversity of Melbourne, Australia
3. Bharath Chandra TalluriUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany
4. Bronson Harry MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney, Australia
5. Molly Henry University of Western Ontario, Canada
6. Ryszard Auksztulewicz Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, UK
If you are feeling inspired and would like to contribute to the blog as well, do get in touch!


TRF is proud to bring to its members’ the first conference dedicated to research on timing. The TRF Conferences will be held on an annual basis in various locations around the globe.
The 1st TRF Conference, announced in March, will be held in Strasbourg, France from 23-25 October, 2017. TRF is immensely grateful to the conference organizers, Anne Giersch and Jenny Coull who took on the initiative and have done an exceptional job, from shaping the conference program to setting up the conference website and coordinating the abstract and symposia submission and review process. A big virtual applause to Anne and Jenny!
TRF1 received an overwhelming 250+ abstracts, and within a few weeks of the abstract deadline, all abstracts, symposia and grant proposals have been reviewed and processed. We are truly excited and look forward to meeting all of you in Strasbourg (further updates on the conference in the next newsletter item).
We are also thankful to the sponsors of TRF1, which include a number of institutional and private sponsors from France, the EU, UK and Canada for supporting the inaugural TRF conference.



Dates:          October 23-25, 2017

Contact:   Anne Giersch –

Thank you to everyone who submitted an abstract for a poster, talk or a symposium. All abstracts have been reviewed and the resulting decisions have been communicated.
In case you have not heard from us regarding the status of your abstract, please do check your inbox (including the spam folder) before contacting us. Travel grant recipients will also be notified shortly (if not already).

The list of accepted symposia is provided below (in no particular order). We received an amazing set of symposia making it very hard for the reviewers to just select some of those. Thank you so much!

1. Temporal Binding of Actions to their Effects: Underlying Mechanisms and Implications for Cognition, Perception, and Development

Organizers: Marc Buehner & Teresa McCormack

2. Timing, Neural Dynamics, and Temporal Scaling

Organizer: Dean Buonomano

3. Listen to your Heart: Our Inner Perception and Experience of Time

Organizers: Nicola Cellini and Giovanna Mioni

4. Embodied Timing : the role of Emergent and Predictive Timing mechanisms in the Voluntary control of Whole Body movements

Organizer: Yvonne Delevoye-Turrell

5. Timing and time perception in children

Organizer: Sylvie Droit-Volet

6. Perception: Continuous or Discrete?

Organizers: Michael Herzog

7. Timing and Conditioning: A Contemporary Overview

Organizers: Domhnall Jennings and Charlotte Bonardi

8. Temporal Prediction: Dynamics in Single Neurons and Networks

Organizer: Matthew S. Matell

9. Temporal organization of perceptual processes by motor-driven low- frequency neuronal oscillations

Organizer: Benjamin Morillon

10. Musical rhythm: Evolutionary and Cross-cultural Perspectives

Organizers: Andrea Ravignani and Nori Jacoby

11. Interrelations between the Representation of Time and Space

Organizer: Martin Riemer

12. Time Processing Deficits in Developmental DisordersOrganizer: Laurel J. Trainor

13. Neural Oscillations for Time Estimation

Organizer: Martin Wiener

14. Neural Entrainment as a Mechanism of Efficient Stimulus Processing

Organizer: Benedikt Zoefel

15. Circadian Rhythms in Health and Disease

Organizer: Valerie Simonneaux


We would like to remind everyone of the early-bird registration deadline of June 30. Please do register at the earliest to avail discounted registration. See the following link to complete your registration –


The conference website will soon be updated with a list of accepted symposia, oral and poster presentations as well as travel grant recipients. Due to the overwhelming number of abstracts received, the conference schedule will be updated to include parallel sessions.


We would like to encourage everyone who has received a confirmation of acceptance of their abstract to look into options for accommodation. A list of hotels is provided here –
For those who wish to consider alternative options, including hotel or house-share via Airbnb et al., we will shortly announce a TRF Slack channel to facilitate your search for roommates/house.


If any one needs a visa to visit France, please contact Anne Giersch for a letter of invitation.


IV. TRF Blogs
We have a number of new blog articles reviewing recent papers on timing by a number of promising early career researchers. Please read, share, comment and discuss!

Bronson Harry, MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney:


Mukesh Makwana, Centre of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Allahabad:



Molly Henry, University of Western Ontario:


Bharath Chandra Talluri, University Medical Center Hamburg- Eppendorf


If you would also like to contribute as a blogger, please get in touch:


III. TRF Mailing List
Everyone is invited to share any items related to timing related positions, grants, news, or anything that concerns timing research with the TRF community via our mailing list.
Make sure to use plain text when sending these messages (i.e., no attachments or fancy formatting is allowed). Please keep in mind that the mailing list is monitored, and only the the items approved by the mailing list moderators will be circulated to our community. Looking forward to your emails!
Please email your items directly to


We invite TRF members to submit short summaries of their recently published articles on timing. Articles should be no longer than 500 words and not include more than one representative figure.
Please submit your entries after your paper is published by emailing us at Submissions are open anytime and will be featured on the TRF blog page –


We invite TRF members to blog about their experience of a timing conference/meeting/workshop that you have recently attended. Submissions can highlight prominent talks/papers presented, new methods, trends and your personal views about the conference. Pictures may also be included.
Please submit your articles (no longer than 1000 words) to within two months from the date of the conference you intend to highlight.


Rhythm Perception and Production Workshop

July 3-5; Birmingham, UK

European Society for Cognitive Science of Music

July 31 – Aug. 4; Ghent, Belgium

1st Conference of the Timing Research Forum

October 23 – 25; Strasbourg, France

For further details on these timing meetings, please visit – If you are organizing or aware of any other meetings focused on timing, please email us at and we will circulate via our mailing list, newsletters and social media channels.


TRF aims to host pertinent timing related resources, so that the TRF website acts as the definitive platform for everything related to timing research. The current resources listed on the TRF website include: (1) all members’ publications, (2) timing related special issues, (3) books on timing, (4) list of meetings focused on timing, (5) list of timing related societies/groups, (6) as well as code and mentoring resources.
TRF encourages open science and supports sharing of relevant information and knowledge between its members, with the aim to advance the field of timing research. We therefore invite you all to contribute to these resources. Please email us ( your suggestions for new resources for the timing community.


As an open academic society, we hope that you participate freely and support the TRF community in achieving its mission. As we like to repeatedly emphasize, TRF’s aim is to serve all timing researchers through open exchange of ideas, information and resources to advance the timing research community. We are open to receiving your suggestions or ideas that will help TRF grow and continue to deliver on its mission. We look forward to your feedback!


With best wishes,
Sundeep Teki

Co-Founder, TRF

University of Oxford


Argiro Vatakis

Co-Founder, TRF

Cognitive Systems Research Institute

Perceptual reorganisation in deaf participants: Can high-level auditory cortex become selective for visual timing?

A paper recently published in PNAS reports a fascinating example of task-specific perceptual reorganisation in deaf participants that raises interesting questions regarding the involvement of high-level auditory cortex in temporal processing.


The study found that a rhythmic sequence task involving visual stimuli (a flashing disc) evoked activity in a high-level auditory region in deaf participants. The region – called area Te3 – showed stronger responses to temporally patterned sequences of visual flashes compared to visual sequences comprised of isochronous stimulation. In participants with intact hearing however, area Te3 showed rhythm selective responses only to auditory sequences, confirming that this region is typically involved in auditory processing. The authors concluded that auditory sensory depravation led to a reorganisation of the pathways servicing high level auditory cortex, a suggestion supported by connectivity analysis showing increased connectivity between area Te3 and visual area MT/V5 in deaf participants.


Although a striking example of perceptual reorganization, what is interesting about this conclusion is that the authors interpret the results as evidence of task-specific reorganization of high-level cortex. The implication here being that area Te3 is specialized for rhythmic processing in a modality independent manner. To support their argument, the authors note similar evidence of modality independent functional specialization in blind participants who show activation in visual cortex to auditory stimuli.


How could it be that an auditory selective region could come to be visually selective in deaf participants? One answer may lie in the residual hearing reported by the deaf participants. A table in the supplementary materials indicates that all the participants used hearing aids (outside the study) and that most reported their speech perception to be poor-moderate. This is interesting since listeners with low hearing rely more on visual temporal cues from the face to facilitate speech intelligibility. The increased utilization of visual timing cues to improve auditory processing may have led to a strengthening of the structural pathways between higher auditory cortex and visual cortex.


If so this raises questions regarding the degree to which area Te3 should be considered a task-specific region (i.e., modality independent, selective for timing tasks), or an auditory region typically involved in the temporal organisation of speech. Posterior STS is a multi-sensory region and shows many areas that are strongly selective for audio-visual speech perception. To identify the properties of area Te3, a more careful analysis of stimulus specific and task specific responses would need to be carried out within individual participants before any definitive claim can be made regarding the functional properties of this region.

Sequence learning modulates neural responses and oscillatory coupling in human and monkey auditory cortex

Picking up on statistical regularities over time is an important prerequisite for language acquisition. For example, learning the transitional probabilities between syllables provides important scaffolding for segmenting the ongoing speech stream into component words – something that is not possible based on auditory information alone. A recent study by Kikuchi and colleagues examined the electrophysiological neural responses to confirmations and violations of an artificial grammar’s rules, but did so in an especially ambitious way – by comparing invasive recordings from human and monkey auditory cortex.

Both species were exposed to an artificial grammar (sequences of CVC nonsense words concatenated in rule-based ways) for 30 minutes, and then neural recordings were made during listening to sequences in which the context led to a specific nonsense word being consistent with or violating the grammatical structure. In response to all nonsense words, both species showed phase consistency in the theta frequency band (~4–8 Hz) as well as power modulations in the gamma band (>~50 Hz). In addition, significant phase–amplitude coupling was found between the theta and gamma bands in response to nonsense words. The more interesting question then, is what happens in response to confirmations versus violations of the artificial grammar rules?

In both species, phase–amplitude coupling was modulated by both confirmations and violations of the artificial grammar rules. Some neurons liked confirmations, some liked violations, and some liked both. In a classical statistical testing world, averaging over recording sites, this would very much be a null effect. Of course, that’s not how neural population coding goes, so we can imagine that looking at the activity pattern over the population of neurons may have provided more information about whether grammar was being respected, but this type of analysis was not performed. Instead, an analysis is presented which suggests that the latencies of the different neural effects in monkeys at least were different, such that phase–amplitude coupling effects and changes in single-unit activity occurred earlier in time than gamma-power modulations. Keep in mind that these are the latencies of the statistical effects, and not necessarily when the real action starts happening (just when the action crosses a significance threshold). There were no attempts to relate the effects to each other in a more fine-grained way, to learn for example whether single-trial phase–amplitude-coupling modulations might predict subsequent power modulations on the same trial.

So, I’ll ask, as the authors ask, what does it all mean? There were no species differences whatsoever, at least in as far as what the current techniques and measures could tell. What does that imply for the relationship between neural “oscillations” (here, theta–gamma coupling specifically) and speech segmentation / perception? That is, can a neural response that is conserved across species do something special for humans that it doesn’t do for other species that don’t use language in the way we typically think of language being used? I’d say, “sure”. For one, the study tested responses to learned statistical regularities in the transitions between complex sounds, something some species of non-human animals seem quite able to do (see also a recent demonstration that monkey auditory cortex neural activity synchronizes with the slow rhythms of speech). On top of that, to cite something Anne-Lise Giraud said at a “Neural Oscillations in Speech and Language Processing” workshop I just attended, one of the really appealing things about neural oscillations is exactly that they are evolutionarily conserved, but still DO seem to have been coopted to do something special for humans.

To sum up, despite my superficial grumpiness about the paper’s shortcomings, I do think the approach is 100% commendable, and one way forward for learning about speech and language processing. Species comparisons are hard, especially with invasive recordings even for humans(!). But having the opportunity to directly compare humans to other species and to use carefully matched stimuli, pipelines, and maybe even tasks has the potential to tell us a lot about the human capacity to learn and communicate via spoken language.

What Language You Speak Shapes Your Subjective Time

If the popular 2016 science fiction movie “Arrival”, wherein linguist Dr. Louise Banks learns an alien language that enables her to understand and perceive the concept of time in a very different way (i.e. past, present and future exists simultaneously), fails to amaze you then probably the real experimental evidence in similar vein might astonish you. Yes, the recent article by Prof. Emanuel Bylund and Prof. Panos Athanasopoulos published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General demonstrates the effect of language on time perception.

The linguistic relativity hypothesis or more popularly known as “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis[1]” suggest that language affects thought process and cognition (although see McWhorter[2], 2014 for opposing view). Previous studies[3-5] by Prof. Lera Boroditsky and colleagues have shown how the concept of time, is represented differently in different languages, but a strong experimental study to demonstrate that language affects time perception was lacking.

Prof. Bylund and Prof. Athanasopoulos used temporal reproduction task, involving three groups, i) only Spanish speakers, ii) only Swedish speakers and iii) Spanish-Swedish bilinguals to investigate the effect of language on time perception. They selected Spanish and Swedish speakers, as in both these languages time is represented and expressed differently. While Spanish speakers represents time in terms of volume and use metaphors like “much time”, Swedish speakers on the other hand represents time in terms of distance and use metaphors like “long time”.

For 40 Spanish and 40 Swedish speakers, they measured the performance in temporal reproduction task as a function of changes in the non-temporal stimulus dimensions such as growing line (representing distance metaphor) or filling of container (representing volume metaphor). The duration of the stimulus and the irrelevant stimulus dimensions (i.e. length of line and filling of container) were manipulated orthogonally. The stimulus duration for reproduction task ranged from 1000ms to 5000ms in steps of 500ms, whereas the length of growing line or the filling of container ranged from 100 to 500 pixels in steps of 50 pixels.

Half of the Spanish and Swedish speakers performed the temporal reproduction task with growing line stimulus while other half performed the temporal reproduction task with filling container stimulus. At the beginning of every trial, the instruction to perform either the temporal reproduction task or the non-temporal (line or container) task was prompted with a word label and a symbol (e.g. hourglass for temporal task, and cross for non-temporal task). For Spanish group the following word labels were used ‘duracion’ for temporal task, ‘distancia’ for line task or ‘cantidad’ for container task, whereas for Swedish group the following word labels were used ‘tid’ for temporal task, ‘avstand’ for line task or ‘mangd’ for container task.

When they categorized the data into extreme (1000ms, 1500ms, 4500ms, 5000ms) and medium category (2000ms to 4000ms), they found that for medium category Spanish speakers performance in temporal reproduction task was influenced when observing the filling container but not when observing the growing line. On the contrary, Swedish speakers performance in temporal reproduction task was influenced when observing the growing line but not when observing the filling container. As the Spanish speakers use amount or volume based metaphor to represent time, having a volume based stimulus interfered with their temporal reproduction whereas the Swedish speakers use distance based metaphor to represent time, having a distance based stimulus interfered with their temporal reproduction.

Interestingly when the same experiment was performed with different 40 Spanish and 40 Swedish speakers, without the word prompt (only symbols were used to indicate which task to perform), no such effect was observed, suggesting that linguistic cue or prompt is necessary for such effect to be tapped in the temporal reproduction task.

To establish that the above effect is mostly language related and not cultural bias, they performed the above experiment with 74 Spanish-Swedish bilinguals wherein half participants were given prompt in Spanish language and other half were given prompt in Swedish language. As predicted and observed in experiment 1, when Spanish word prompt was used participants temporal reproduction was influenced by filling container stimulus, whereas when Swedish word prompt was used participants temporal reproduction was influenced by growing line stimulus. Thus establishing that language context influences time perception.

In conclusion, this study provides a convincing evidence for the effect of language context on time perception and opens a range of possibilities and questions, to be explored and answered, resulting in better understanding the relationship between language and time perception. In future, it would be nice to investigate this effect with other languages and temporal paradigms such as temporal bisection and generalization. In addition, it would be interesting to investigate whether such linguistic cues really influence time perception or only induce response bias; such questions can be addressed by performing the ERP version of similar experiment and measuring the CNV (contingent negative variation) component.

Although to experience such a drastic change in time perception as depicted in the movie “Arrival” may not be feasible at the moment, but some milder progress has been made in this direction with the introduction of “The Whorfian Time Warp”.


1. Whorf, B. L. (1956). Language, thought, and reality: Selected writings (J. B. Carroll, Ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

2. McWhorter, J. (2014). The Language Hoax. Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language. New York: Oxford University Press.

3. Boroditsky, L. (2001). Does language shape thought? Mandarin and English speakers’ conception of time. Cognitive Psychology, 43, 1-22.

4. Boroditsky, L., Fuhrman, O., & McKormick, K. (2010). Do English and Mandarin speakers think about time differently? Cognition, 118, 123-129.

5. Casasanto, D., Boroditsky, L., Phillps, W., Greene, J., Goswami, S., Bocanegra-Thiel, S. & Gil, D. (2004). How deep are effects of language on thought? Time estimation in speakers of English, Indonesian, Greek, and Spanish. In K. Forbus, D. Gentner, & T. Regier (Eds.). Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 186–191). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Source article: Bylund, E., & Athanasopoulos, P. (2017, April 27). The Whorfian Time Warp: Representing Duration Through the Language Hourglass. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication.

—Mukesh Makwana (,
Doctoral student,
Centre of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences (CBCS), India.