Role of olivocerebellar system in timing without awareness

Xiang Wu, James Ashe, Khalaf O. Bushara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The timing of events can be implicit or without awareness yet critical for task performance. However, the neural correlates of implicit timing are unknown. One system that has long been implicated in event timing is the olivocerebellar system, which originates exclusively from the inferior olive. By using event-related functional MRI in human subjects and a specially designed behavioral task, we examined the effect of the subjects' awareness of changes in stimulus timing on the olivocerebellar system response. Subjects were scanned while observing changes in stimulus timing that were presented near each subject's detection threshold such that subjects were aware of such changes in only approximately half the trials. The inferior olive and multiple areas within the cerebellar cortex showed a robust response to time changes regardless of whether the subjects were aware of these changes. Our findings provide support to the proposed role of the olivocerebellar systemin encoding temporal information and further suggest that this system can operate independently of awareness and mediate implicit timing in a multitude of perceptual and motor operations, including classical conditioning and implicit learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13818-13822
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 16 2011


  • Cerebellum
  • Visual


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