Subjective Duration as a Signature of Coding Efficiency: Emerging Links Among Stimulus Repetition, Predictive Coding, and Cortical GABA Levels


  • William J. Matthews Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
  • Devin B. Terhune Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford
  • Hedderik van Rijn Department of Psychology, University of Groningen
  • David M. Eagleman Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
  • Marc A. Sommer Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC
  • Warren H. Meck Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC


Predictive coding, Repetition suppression, GABA, Individual differences, Timing and time perception, Interval tuning, Cortical and sub-cortical structures, Striatal beat-frequency model


Immediate repetition of a stimulus reduces its apparent duration relative to a novel item. Recent work indicates that this may reflect suppressed cortical responses to repeated stimuli, arising from neural adaptation and/or the predictive coding of expected stimuli. This article summarizes recent behavioral and neurobiological studies linking perceived time to the magnitude of cortical responses, including work suggesting that variations in GABA-mediated cortical inhibition may underlie some of the individual differences in time perception. We suggest that the firing of cortical neurons can be modified using simple recurrent networks with time-dependent processes that are modulated by GABA levels. These local networks feed into a core-timing network used to integrate across stimulus inputs/modalities, thereby allowing for the coordination of multiple duration ranges and effector systems.