Research Reports - Time discrimination in traumatic brain injury patients

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2012 Dec 24

Mioni G, Stablum F, Cantagallo A

Time management skills are required for most daily activities. Traumatic brain
injury (TBI) patients often present with cognitive dysfunction, but few studies
have investigated temporal impairment. The aim of the present study was to assess
temporal abilities in TBI patients using a time discrimination task. Twenty-seven
TBI patients (ages = 18-60 years) and 27 controls (ages = 20-60 years) were asked
to discriminate between two time intervals presented sequentially. The standard
intervals were 500 ms or 1,300 ms long followed by a comparison stimulus that was
25% shorter or longer than the standard one. Participants were also asked to
perform two tasks to assess attention, speed-of-processing (the Stroop task), and
working memory (the n-back task) abilities. The TBI patients were less accurate
than the controls on the time discrimination task and showed greater time-order
error effects. In fact, TBI patients pressed the "short" key more times when the
standard time interval was 500 ms and the "long" key more times when the standard
interval was 1,300 ms. Significant correlations were found between time
discrimination, working memory, and speed of processing in both TBI and controls
when the standard time interval was 1,300 ms. Attention appeared to be involved
in different ways in the two groups. Working memory and speed of processing were
involved in time processing only in TBI patients when the standard time interval
was 500 ms. These data lend additional support to the notion that two different
systems are responsible for elaborating time durations shorter or longer than a
second.

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