Thursday, August 31, 2017

How to make time slow down.

Many days I feel by 5 p.m. like my day has evaporated without my noticing it. I recall that when I was 20-40 years old my days seems to stretch out much longer. Cooper does a piece on the interesting science of time perception that explains how this has a lot to do with my being in my 76th year. Put most simply, when we are younger we are attending to more new information, it takes our brains a while to process it all, and the longer this processing takes, the longer that period of time feels. When we are older we typically are taking in information we've processed before ("I've see it all."), the brain doesn't work so hard, so it processes time faster.
Our ‘sense’ of time is unlike our other senses—i.e. taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. With time, we don’t so much sense it as perceive it...our brains take a whole bunch of information from our senses and organize it in a way that makes sense to us, before we ever perceive it. So what we think is our sense of time is actually just a whole bunch of information presented to us in a particular way, as determined by our brains.
When our brains receive new information, it doesn’t necessarily come in the proper order. This information needs to be reorganized and presented to us in a form we understand. When familiar information is processed, this doesn’t take much time at all. New information, however, is a bit slower and makes time feel isn’t just a single area of the brain that controls our time perception—it’s done by a whole bunch of brain areas, unlike our common five senses, which can each be pinpointed to specific area.
So, here's the self-helpy message: How do we make our days last longer? We can feed our brains more new information - keep learning, visit new places, meet new people, try new activities, be spontaneous. The extra processing time required will make us feel like time is moving more slowly! 

[[By the way, sharp readers will have noted a conflict of the above with yesterday's blog post, namely in the statement above with "Our ‘sense’ of time is unlike our other senses—i.e. taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. With time, we don’t so much sense it as perceive it..." While the basic message above is still OK, yesterday's post points out that we don't directly 'sense it', i.e.  directly taste, touch, smell, see, and hear... the function of that sensory input is to test and tweak our top-down ongoing model of tasting, touching, smelling, seeing. That model, like our perception of time, is a derivative perception, which can also be altered in various ways.]]

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