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November 2 2012

Monkeys keep the beat without outside help

Devoid of any external time cues, monkeys can still tell time. Animals learned to move their eyeballs once every second, a completely internal timing feat made possible by the rhythmic behavior of small groups of nerve cells, researchers propose online October 30 in PLOS Biology.

Time is often measured with clues from the environment, says study coauthor Geoffrey Ghose of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. A quick glance at a clock indicates that your meeting will start soon, and a look outside at a low sun tells you that itís time to leave work. But some time-telling abilities rely on purely internal processes ó just a feeling that minutes, hours or days have ticked by, Ghose says.

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