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Neuroscientist who discovered key mechanisms of time perception awarded prestigious grant

Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown

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IMAGE: Dr. Joseph Paton was selected by the International Research Scholars Program to further his work on the neural basis of time perception and decision-making. view more 

Credit: Gabriela Martins

Joseph Paton, group leader at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal, is among the awardees announced today, May 9th, 2017, by the International Research Scholars Program. Paton is one of 41 outstanding investigators chosen from 1500 submitted applications.

Paton's work has contributed great insight into the mechanisms by which the brain creates mental connections between events separated in time, an ability crucial for vital cognitive functions such as learning and planning. Specifically, together with his team, Paton demonstrated how time is encoded in neural circuits in the brain (Current Biology article, eLife article) and identified a set of neurons that control subjective time perception in rodents (Science article).

This grant will allow Paton to further dissect the mechanisms by which internally generated signals, such as the ones that inform the brain about the passage of time, are transformed into action. According to Paton, a deeper understanding of this process is "key for discovering how animals free themselves from the immediacy of the current moment to be able to interact with the world in a more informed and calculated manner."

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The International Research Scholars Program is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Calouste de Gulbenkian Foundation. The programme provides its awardees with a total sum of $650,000 to support their research over a period of five years.

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