How does a brain infection alter one's sense of time?

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BillTre
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Here's a weird story I read about someone who lost their sense of time.
In this case their ability to sense time was altered by a brain infection.
The person's experiences are interesting. Time is important in tying things together mentally. Meanwhile, physical time marches on in their outside world and imposes its temporal structure on brain functioning through the senses.

In addition to my difficulty perceiving short spans of time, my comprehension of longer periods of time was also affected. I referred to every past event in my life, whether it was my doctor’s appointment the day before or an audition I’d taken years ago, as having happened “yesterday.” I couldn’t remember what date, month or even year it was. I forgot what times of day were appropriate to call friends and family on the phone, and I didn’t understand what people meant when they said they were “busy.” Bedridden and unable to comprehend time, my illness seemed to drag on for eternity with no end in sight.

The affected person was a musician, but there was not a lot about its affect on perceiving or making music. Music is tightly tied to time. ??

They recovered to some degree.
 
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Losing track of time is usually associated with dementia. It would seem this may not affect one's sense of rhythm since at least for musicians music time might be more reflexive than cognitive. I suppose it is possible that he suffered a mini-stroke which mostly resolved itself.

What was his age? I know as you age weird things occur and then go away. I went through a period of uncharacteristic forgetfulness or attentiveness.
 
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  • #3
BillTre said:
Here's a weird story I read about someone who lost their sense of time.
In this case their ability to sense time was altered by a brain infection.
I'm glad they are recovering and mostly back to normal. This was interesting:
Interestingly, the Journal of Neuropsychiatry study confirms that using a metronome can help brain trauma patients recover their sense of timing. “The therapeutic value of temporally based interventions (e.g., rhythmic cueing, slow rhythmic drumming) has been demonstrated for multiple neuropsychiatric conditions.”

Six years after my recovery, my memory overall is not as sharp as it was before my illness. I use to-do lists to keep myself on track. I triple-check the rehearsal dates on emails I send my students to make sure I haven’t listed the wrong day or month, although sometimes mistakes still slip through. I also sometimes struggle to remember how far back events in my past happened. I’ll catch myself wondering if I had the oil in my car changed three months ago or a year ago. But every time I take my viola out of its case, I feel grateful to be able to think like a musician again.

I deal with brain trauma patients in field EMS fairly often who lose short term memory (and there are good tests for that), but have never run into one who lost a sense of time. Thanks.
 
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gleem said:
I went through a period of uncharacteristic forgetfulness or attentiveness.
Was it from a TIA? Did you ever figure out what might have caused it?
 
  • #5
berkeman said:
Was it from a TIA? Did you ever figure out what might have caused it?
I do not know. Everything else seemed normal. At that time I think I was under a little more stress than usual.
 
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berkeman said:
Was it from a TIA?
Do NOT ignore. See a neurologist NOW.
 
  • #7
Bystander said:
Do NOT ignore. See a neurologist NOW.
It sounds like it happened to @gleem a while ago. After a while it can be difficult to detect TIAs, depending on what kind of damage (if any) gets left behind.
 
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This episode was about 13 years ago.
 
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berkeman said:
Was it from a TIA?
TIAs typically produce sudden symptoms which are usually quite noticeable and severe. I would think that like everything there are degrees of ischemia that might produce some symptoms with reduced noticeable effects.

For example, I had a grandmother with dementia who once told my mother that there were a lot of ants crawling on the wall. My mother dismissed it as silly. One symptom of a TIA which I learned decades later is the production of a myriad of floaters in the visual field as well as more serious conditions such as loss of vision.

I am trying to be aware of things associated with dementia or TIA . Aging by itself carries a normal deterioration of one's mental health and mentality. Since I have a well-connected family I can also rely on their observations if things are not what they used to be. Although I do take advantage of this to be a bit more cranky than usual because well old people get cranky.:smile:
 
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gleem said:
TIAs typically produce sudden symptoms which are usually quite noticeable and severe.
I've seen the gamut from brief, slight impairments (almost like a petit mal seizure) to full-blown stroke symptoms that all of sudden subsided for no apparent reason. I've also had patients who told me (when I'm taking medical history information due to some unrelated issue) that they have had their doctor tell them that there is evidence of TIAs in their brain, even though they never noticed an issue. Maybe those happened when they were sleeping or something...
 
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  • #11
berkeman said:
I've also had patients who told me (when I'm taking medical history information due to some unrelated issue) that they have had their doctor tell them that there is evidence of TIAs in their brain, even though they never noticed an issue.
Presumably from imaging studies of the brain.
 
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