Dopamine and the interdependency of time perception and reward

Bowen J. Fung, Elissa Sutlief, Marshall G. Hussain Shuler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Time is a fundamental dimension of our perception of the world and is therefore of critical importance to the organization of human behavior. A corpus of work — including recent optogenetic evidence — implicates striatal dopamine as a crucial factor influencing the perception of time. Another stream of literature implicates dopamine in reward and motivation processes. However, these two domains of research have remained largely separated, despite neurobiological overlap and the apothegmatic notion that “time flies when you're having fun”. This article constitutes a review of the literature linking time perception and reward, including neurobiological and behavioral studies. Together, these provide compelling support for the idea that time perception and reward processing interact via a common dopaminergic mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-391
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Dopamine
  • Motivation
  • Reward
  • Time perception
  • Timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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