The brain is a matter of time

braintimeWhat is human life without time perception? Is there a region of the brain that is specifically working for time perception? Now, there is no evidence of that. Actually, many regions of the brain work conjointly to provide time perception. This work requires computations from several neural functional circuits, those of: arousal, short-term memory or attention, episodic memory, working memory, calculation, language, semantics, logic, reality checking and even emotional judgment.
Everyone knows that time perception is different between a boring condition and being with the loved person.
Thus, it is evident that time perception does not correspond to a simple faculty as that could be considered with senses. We do not touch, ear, or see the time. We see with our eyes a world that is done by separate objects, places and persons. However, do we perceive times as clearly separated lapses of time? Thus, is time perception a true sensorial perception? Time estimation should also vary according to the different intervals (seconds, hours, days and months) and this should have also a spatial representation (from there to here). People have to refer also to memory or semantic information: we know that summer is only few months or that the fight Geneva- Rome is about 75 minutes. We collect these information from memory while living events. We should also be concerned by some paradox effects of the time perception. Actually, for perceiving ourselves as being in the present time we should feel that an interval occurred from the recent past. How does the brain evaluate the passage from the past to the present and how it will know when the present will end? Time perception makes important also the past along a continumm dimension (continuity, which gives to us the true “tension” of our human lives).
Time perception is a faculty that does not belong only to the humans but also to all forms of life since the beginnings of the planet, even with the highest degrees of complexity. For example flies owe their skill of avoiding newspapers to their ability to observe motion on finer timescales than our own eyes can achieve, allowing them to avoid the newspaper as the famous “bullet time” sequence in the film The Matrix.
Powerful hallucinogens could induce great distortions in time perception up to the feeling that special “moment of the eternity”. Patients with Parkinson disease have a slower mental pacing in time estimations and perceptions.
Focal brain damage (occurring for example with stroke) could give some opportunity to study the human faculties of time estimation and perception. Would someone share with me a protocol to study time perception in patients with neurological disorders?

Questa voce è stata pubblicata in Cognition and Behavior. Contrassegna il permalink.


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