Keeping time in your sleep: Overnight consolidation of temporal rhythm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Authors:
  • Penelope A. Lewis
  • Tom J. Couch
  • Matthew P. Walker


Temporal processing forms the basis of a vast number of human behaviours, from simple perception and action to tasks like locomotion, playing a musical instrument, and understanding language. Growing evidence suggests that these procedural skills are consolidated during sleep, however investigation of such learning has focused upon the order in which movements are made rather than their temporal dynamics. Here, we use psychophysics and neuroimaging to explore the possibility that temporal aspects of such skills are also enhanced over a period of sleep. Behaviourally, our examinations of motor (tapping a finger in time with a temporal rhythm) and perceptual (monitoring a temporal rhythm for deviants) tasks reveal post-sleep improvements in both domains. Functionally, we show that brain-state during retention (sleep or wake) modulates subsequent responses in the striatum, supplementary motor area, and lateral cerebellum during motor timing, and in the posterior hippocampus during perceptual timing. Our data support the proposal that these two forms of timing draw on different brain mechanisms, with motor timing using a more automatic system while perceptual timing of the same rhythm is more closely associated with cognitive processing. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011