The connection between stimulus perception and time perception remains unknown. The present study combines human and rat psychophysics with sensory cortical neuronal firing to construct a computational model for the percept of elapsed time embedded within sense of touch. When subjects judged the duration of a vibration applied to the fingertip (human) or whiskers (rat), increasing stimulus mean speed led to increasing perceived duration. Symmetrically, increasing vibration duration led to increasing perceived intensity. We modeled spike trains from vibrissal somatosensory cortex as input to dual leaky integrators – an intensity integrator with short time constant and a duration integrator with long time constant -generating neurometric functions that replicated the actual psychophysical functions of rats. Returning to human psychophysics, we then confirmed specific predictions of the dual leaky integrator model. This study offers a framework, based on sensory coding and subsequent accumulation of sensory drive, to account for how a feeling of the passage of time accompanies the tactile sensory experience.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience