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Do different species perceive time to pass at different rates?

by mrspeedybob
Tags: pass, perceive, rates, species, time
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May2-12, 11:43 AM
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Assuming the perception of time has something to do with the rate at which signals can move around within the brain and between the brain and body it would make sense that smaller animals with smaller brains would perceive more time between events because the distances which neurological signals must travel are smaller. For example, a human may watch a movie and see continuous motion but a mouse looking at the same screen may see a series of still images?

Has this idea been tested by experiment? If so, how, and what was the result?
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May2-12, 12:05 PM
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Pythagorean's Avatar
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It's good cause/effect thinking, but there's one aspect of the brain to consider:

electrotonic length does not equal physical length. That is, the brain can make signals travel faster or slower down particular neural structures. It can use this feature to synchronize signals.
May2-12, 11:30 PM
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that means that they could perceive time at the same rate
but the shorter distance would be able to perceive time faster and wouldn't there be an evolutionary advantage to "slow down time" to avoid getting eaten.

May4-12, 03:57 AM
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Do different species perceive time to pass at different rates?

Neuroscientist Rodolfo Llinás maintains the cells in the thalamus all pulse in synchrony at 40 hz.

If we suppose our sense of the passage of time were linked to this frequency, then a greater frequency would make the world seem to slow down, and a slower frequency would make the world speed up. In the former case there would be more "samples" of reality per second, and in the latter, fewer.

This may not be the mechanism by which our perception of the passage of time is regulated, but there does seem to be some such mechanism because it can be disrupted by drugs, like speed, and disease, like Parkinson's.

I'm told that the drug "speed" got it's name because users would perceive the world around them to have speeded up. They'd see people rushing around like a movie shown at the wrong rate. Likewise, Oliver Sacks discovered that some of his post-encephaletic Parkinson's patients (Awakenings) would slow down to a rate so slow that they looked frozen. The act of scratching an itch on their face would take them all day in this state. When they came out of it it would seem to them just a moment had passed, and the people who had moved around them would have moved so fast they couldn't even perceive them.

Since there is some mechanism governing this, it would make sense that animals that have to move extremely quickly, like birds, would be "sampling" the environment at a greater frequency per second than humans and larger mammals. To them, we may seem to be moving with ponderous slowness.
May7-12, 05:52 PM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
This may not be the mechanism by which our perception of the passage of time is regulated, but there does seem to be some such mechanism because it can be disrupted by drugs, like speed, and disease, like Parkinson's.
Is there anything that has the opposite effect, making the rest of the world seem to slow down by increasing the rate at which we "sample reality"? Or is the brain naturally optimized to sample at the highest possible rate?
May9-12, 05:18 AM
P: 62
Actually do all humans perceive time to pass at same rate? Is it similar to asking "Do we see the same colour as each other? (".

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
May9-12, 11:28 AM
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These are some papers I used in a research project for a "Learning and Cognition" psychology class. They don't directly answer the question, but they provide an interesting insight into human perception of time.

How do we construct abstract ideas like justice, mathematics, or time-travel? In this paper we investigate whether mental representations that result from physical experience underlie people's more abstract mental representations, using the domains of space and time as a testbed. People often talk about time using spatial language (e.g., a long vacation, a short concert). Do people also think about time using spatial representations, even when they are not using language? Results of six psychophysical experiments revealed that people are unable to ignore irrelevant spatial information when making judgments about duration, but not the converse. This pattern, which is predicted by the asymmetry between space and time in linguistic metaphors, was demonstrated here in tasks that do not involve any linguistic stimuli or responses. These findings provide evidence that the metaphorical relationship between space and time observed in language also exists in our more basic representations of distance and duration. Results suggest that our mental representations of things we can never see or touch may be built, in part, out of representations of physical experiences in perception and motor action. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Volume 106, Issue 2, February 2008, Pages 579-593
Time in the mind: Using space to think about time
Casasanto, D. , Boroditsky, L.
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Jordan Hall, Bldg. 420, Stanford, CA 94305, United States

The present paper evaluates the claim that abstract conceptual domains are structured through metaphorical mappings from domains grounded directly in experience. In particular, the paper asks whether the abstract domain of time gets its relational structure from the more concrete domain of space. Relational similarities between space and time are outlined along with several explanations of how these similarities may have arisen. Three experiments designed to distinguish between these explanations are described. The results indicate that (1) the domains of space and time do share conceptual structure, (2) spatial relational information is just as useful for thinking about time as temporal information, and (3) with frequent use, mappings between space and time come to be stored in the domain of time and so thinking about time does not necessarily require access to spatial schemas. These findings provide some of the first empirical evidence for Metaphoric Structuring. It appears that abstract domains such as time are indeed shaped by metaphorical mappings from more concrete and experiential domains such as space.
Cognition. 2000 Apr 14;75(1):1-28.
Metaphoric structuring: understanding time through spatial metaphors.
Boroditsky L.

So I think... in short... the time scales we use to conceptualize time or the ones we're most familiar with from spatiotemporal experiences. That is, frequency of stimuli that is cognitively significant drives our perception of time in the way that it requires our attentiveness.

So "too long" is when stimuli aren't coming as fast as we have built up an expectation for them to and "too short" is when stimuli are coming much faster than our learned expectations.

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