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Jan 23

Time Perception

time-perception-mysteriesWhat do you think about time perception? Does time exist in its own right, or is it just in our minds?

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant proposed that time might not, after all, stand outside human perception as part of the external universe, but that it could possibly be, along with space,a product of the mind itself.

1. What is time?

Time appears to be a condition of change and motion.

But it’s not known exactly what time is: whether it’s built into the structure of the universe, existing outside of human perception; or whether it’s simply a structure in the human mind, along with space, with which human beings put events into order and hold them in relation to each other.

Atomic clocks are the most accurate measure of time we have. They set the standard time in our age. Atomic clocks work by using an electronic oscillator at microwave frequency, in the same way as a grandfather clock with a pendulum, but at the atomic level.

Researchers have suggested that the brain contains a primitive kind of clock, consisting of a pacemaker and an accumulator. There’s an internal pulsation that’s measured by accumulation of pulses.

2. Why does time appear to go faster as we age?

Can it be possible that time, shared by both adults and children simultaneously, can move faster for the one age group than for the other? So how come time seems to go faster the older you get?

Again, this raises the question of whether time only exists in the perception, or if it’s something that exists outside of it. But, experiments have clearly shown that people in emotionally unpleasant situations, for example, perceive time as dragging, whereas people in the same situation having pleasurable experience, perceive time as going by quickly. It seems that factors such as physical or emotional comfort could affect how we perceive time.

Time is also marked by events and actions that can assign a particular time frame to memory. Attentiveness to the passage of time by its connection to events and activities could affect our perception of how quickly time passes. Psychologist William James suggested thattime seems to speed up as we age because it is accompanied by progressively fewer memorable events.

3. Why do psychedelic drugs alter time perception?

Mind-altering substances can give us some insight into how altered states of perception due to activity in the brain can affect time perception. People taking psychedelic drugsexperience time as altered.

An experiment, using 20 volunteers under the influence of LSD, and monitoring the brain’s activity with brain scans, showed that LSD has an observable effect on the region of the brain associated with the past. LSD alters time perception by suppressing that part of our brain which brings up memories of the past. People taking LSD, therefore, live much more in the present and future than in the past.

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