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Neurological mechanism for perceiving time?

  1. Mar 14, 2012 #1

    strangerep

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    Hi all,

    I'm a first time poster in Biology, and I'm not sure if this question belongs in Biology or Medicine. (I normally hang out over in quantum physics.)

    What is currently known about the detailed neurological/biological mechanism by which humans perceive the passage of time? Simple watches are designed such that we perceive the spacing of ticks of each second to be approximately equal. Presumably this is related to some continuous dynamical process in the brain? If so, is this mechanism well understood at present?
     
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  3. Mar 14, 2012 #2

    atyy

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  4. Mar 15, 2012 #3

    Andy Resnick

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  5. Mar 15, 2012 #4
    Circadian rhythms are found in many different organism such as plants. In fact, plants use light and photoperiods to tell time. When nights get longer/shorter they will flower accordingly. As for humans, melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland at night and is used to tell time essential to many biological functions.
     
  6. Mar 16, 2012 #5

    strangerep

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    Thanks everyone for the various references. I see that this is a very complex subject, with distinctly different mechanisms for short and long time interval perception.

    So much to learn, and only one lifetime... :-(
     
  7. Mar 16, 2012 #6

    Pythagorean

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    ultradian rhythms - less than a day
    circadian rhythms - daily
    infradian rhythms - more than a day
     
  8. Mar 18, 2012 #7

    Andy Resnick

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    This time of year, various bugs are out and about. One of them, Armadillidiidae (pill bug/roly-poly/potato bug/..) curls up into a ball if you touch it, then after some amount of time, unrolls and continues on it's way. Does anyone know if someone has done any work to understand how that time interval is set? I can't imagine it's learned behavior, and I have a hard time thinking of a genetic basis.
     
  9. Mar 19, 2012 #8
  10. Mar 20, 2012 #9

    strangerep

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  11. Apr 5, 2012 #10
    I enjoyed reading this. I think I saw this guy on Colbert, probably pushing a book, but I also remember seeing video of the people being dropped while watching for the numbers. Or perhaps that's just a perception I have formed based upon sensory data arriving too fast that it got smeared into a memory.

    Nope, it happened:
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/392756/july-21-2011/david-eagleman
     
  12. Apr 5, 2012 #11
    A fantastic source :rolleyes:, in an episoide of House MD, there was a case of a patient that had "gaps" in their "experience".

    As in, the patient sings a song with rythem, and at times the patient pauses and is unnoticed by the patient.

    I would guess it's loosely based off something plausable.

    Mini "black outs" or something.
     
  13. Apr 6, 2012 #12
    I didn't happen to catch this episode but what you're describing is Absence Seizures:

    http://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/understanding-absence-seizure-basics

    From the perspective of the person having the seizure time seems to have inexplicably jumped forward a few seconds: suddenly people are in different positions saying different things, etc, as if some frames had been cut out of a film.
     
  14. Apr 7, 2012 #13
    Chase - "His EEG didn't show any sign of seizure activity."
    House - "I didn't say it was a seizure, I said it was like a seizure!"
    Oh that House, always so clever :smile:

    It was S07E16, the diagnosis is at 28:00 minutes into the episode. One of the better episodes too, check it out.
     
  15. Apr 7, 2012 #14
    It looks like I'd have to download it to watch it. I'll eventually catch it on TV. I watch the old episodes when they air.
     
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