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Much of human behavior is governed by common processes that unfold over varying timescales. Standard event-related potential analysis assumes fixed-duration responses relative to experimental events. However, recent single-unit recordings in animals have revealed neural activity scales to span different durations during behaviors demanding flexible timing. Here, we employed a general linear modeling approach using a combination of fixed-duration and variable-duration regressors to unmix fixed-time and scaled-time components in human magneto-/electroencephalography (M/EEG) data. We use this to reveal consistent temporal scaling of human scalp-recorded potentials across four independent electroencephalogram (EEG) datasets, including interval perception, production, prediction, and value-based decision making. Between-trial variation in the temporally scaled response predicts between-trial variation in subject reaction times, demonstrating the relevance of this temporally scaled signal for temporal variation in behavior. Our results provide a general approach for studying flexibly timed behavior in the human brain.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





EEG, regression, timing, Humans, Animals, Scalp, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Reaction Time, Brain Mapping