Jenny Coull is a CNRS Senior Research Fellow and has been at Aix-Marseille University in France for 15 years. Prior to that she spent 7 years in London at the Functional Imaging Laboratory of UCL. She conducts functional imaging, psychopharmacological and developmental investigations of timing and temporal attention. Her lab website is – https://sites.google.com/site/
How can we determine the brain’s code for time?
What aspect of timing does your lab investigate, and what do you consider to be the most pressing and fundamental questions in timing research?
My research is focused on duration – how we measure current time, and how we can use it to predict future time. I primarily use fMRI but have recently been collaborating on some developmental research, which I’m very excited about. I like how such different methodologies can be mutually informative.
I think the most fundamental question for timing research is how we represent such a slippery concept in our brains. Time is relative so it can’t possibly exist in a single location of the brain and it must depend, to a certain extent, on memory. Time is intangible so it must need some kind of scaffolding upon which to support itself – a motor representation of time, a spatial representation of time…?
As the Organizers, what are your hopes and expectations for 1st Timing Research Forum Conference?
Although the psychological study of time has been around for decades, the neuroscientific investigation of time is relatively recent. Of course, this is largely because of amazing technical progress in the past 25 years or so. Because there is no clinical disorder whose symptoms are characterised by temporal dysfunction, the neuroscientific study of time wasn’t really possible until such technological advances had been made. So my big hope for the 1st TRF conference is that psychologists and neuroscientists get together to learn from, and inspire, one another.
What current topics/techniques or new advances in timing research are you most excited about?
The therapeutic possibilities of temporally structuring a patient’s experience to help them overcome the clinical symptoms of their disorder. For example, the incredible effects of rhythmic auditory stimulation on the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Or finding a way to help schizophrenic patients untangle the temporal order of their experience, which might go some way to temper some of the positive symptoms of the disorder (hallucinations and delusions).
What advice do you have for students and postdoctoral researchers interesting in investigating the brain’s code for time?
The neuroscientific investigation of time is a young field with enormous scope for new lines of inquiry. So it’s critical to keep up to date with the overwhelming number of new papers coming out every month (and to keep their supervisors up to date at the same time!!). I would also encourage young neuroscientists to learn from the past and explore the classic psychology literature from the ’50s and ’60s (and before).