Sunday, August 31, 2014

Time Warped

So, time being a theme that I come back to here from time to time, at least in passing, I thought I'd share this video that came to my attention via our friends at Brain Pickings, in a post entitled The Science of Our Warped Perception of Time, Animated. The video, posted by BrainCraft, and entitled Your Warped Perception of Time, is quite well done indeed, and in my opinion, worth a few minutes of our time:

So, there is a psychological parallel to the relativity of time in physics. This no doubt is related to the sense that people have that time slows down during an accident. What is left unsaid is what accounts for this phenomenon.

Perhaps it has to do with the time lag that inevitably exists between events occurring in the world and our perception of them. After all, it takes time for the light rays and ripples of sound to hit our eyes and ears, a little more time for those stimuli to cause nerve endings to fire, a little more time for those signals to reach the brain, and a little more time for the brain to process them. The delay may be miniscule, but it is a delay. 

So, perhaps there is an ordinary delay that is sufficient for most events occurring in everyday life, and then an expedited process of perception that occurs when there's potential danger, i.e., something is coming at us, passing through our various distance zones from public to social to personal to intimate space. So the nervous system speeds up in response to a threat, which in turn provides the illusion of time slowing down.

Of course, this doesn't account for time seeming to slow down when we're bored and speed up when we're having fun. Could it be that our nervous systems register boredom as a threat? You would think so from the way that we have developed so many forms of entertainment and technologies with the purpose of keeping ourselves amused, especially apparent in the way we all whip out our smart phones these days when encountering the slightest bit of down time. We may be amusing ourselves to death, but apparently our brains find that preferable to the threat of being bored to death, perhaps working under the false presumption that it is either one or the other.

Well, my time's up, so I'll be taking my leave. I don't want you to think I'm a danger to you, after all, even if, maybe I am?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This got me thinking. Perhaps it has to do with which centers of the brain are most active. We have an onion like brain, so it seems logical that different layers have different perceptions of time. Emotions can be timeless. The body has a slower concept of time in terms of muscle memory than the logical memory. The discrepancy I think is in this huge chunk of recent brain development, the frontal lobe. It's concept of time has the ability to remove itself from the external world. Whereas most other functions involving time are directly related to the external world.