Dissociation of the role of the prelimbic cortex in interval timing and resource allocation: beneficial effect of norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor nomifensine on anxiety-inducing distraction
The effect of a concurrent task on timing performance of pigeons was investigated with the peak interval procedure. Birds were trained to peck a side key on a discrete-trial schedule that included reinforced fixed-interval (FI) 30-s trials and nonreinforced extended probe trials. Then, in separate sessions, birds were trained to peck a 6-s center key for food. In a subsequent test phase, the FI procedure was in effect along with dual-task probe test trials. On those test trials, the 6-s center key (task cue) was presented at 3, 9, or 15s after probe trial onset. During another test phase, a 6-s gap (the FI keylight was extinguished) was presented at 3, 9, or 15s after probe trial onset. Peak time increased with center key time of onset, and was greater under task than gap conditions. Moreover, peak time under task conditions exceeded values predicted by stop and reset clock mechanisms. These results are at variance with current attentional accounts of timing behavior in dual-task conditions, and suggest a role of nontemporal factors in the control of timing behavior.