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Medical Relativity and Dreams

  1. Jul 16, 2010 #1
    First of all, I thought that this post would be most nearly concerning neuroscience, but please correct me if I am wrong so it can be moved.

    Second, this is pure speculation without any facts to back it up, or appropriate knowledge of this field, so again, correct me if I am wrong.

    After seeing the new movie Inception last night, one thought that stuck with me was how time progressively slowed down as the characters went deeper down into one's subconscious. Although the movie was pure fiction, I couldn't help but wonder a few things:

    1. In order for time to appear slower in the subconscious relative to a more active state of awareness, there would have to be some sort of increase in "velocity" in the brain.

    2. This "velocity" could be analagous to a changing percentage of a brain's full capabilities.

    3. I have heard that the brain does in fact expend more of it's energy during dreams.

    4. To sum it all up, If our brains work in a more complex way during dreams, then while we are within a dream it would appear to an outsider that a person in a dream would be in a different reference of time. This could be a factor in the apparent "strangeness" of dreams after we have woken up from them, and the inability to remember far back within the dream.


    Again, this is all speculative and well outside my realm of knowledge, but I would appreciate it if any of you that are more knowledgeable on the subject could voice your input.
     
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  3. Jul 16, 2010 #2

    Pythagorean

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    I would say that's all pretty much wild speculation. Don't be discouraged though. You're odds of guessing how the brain works without any education in the subject are incredibly slim, so it was a good attempt (you're at least thinking about cause and effect and making some guesses about it).

    If you're really interested in the subject, study it academically. The movies are a great place to start for inspiration, but I think that's about as far as their reach should extend.
     
  4. Jul 16, 2010 #3
    Thanks for the input.

    Yeah I had a feeling that it was a bit of a stretch. Like I said neuroscience is not my field at all, just more of a curiosity for me. Oh well, back to some physics :)
     
  5. Jul 17, 2010 #4

    fuzzyfelt

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  6. Jul 17, 2010 #5
    In additon to distortions in our perception of time, remember that we are actually pretty poor at measuring the passage of time when fully conscious, in the absence of some external stimulus. It may be better to think of this in terms of: what contributes to our regular perception of the passage of time in normal life? How is that altered by sensory deprivation, artificial (as in SAD) lighting, darkness, or various drugs and hormones? The human perception of the flow of time is rarely uniform, and always subject to bias upon recollection.
     
  7. Jul 20, 2010 #6

    fuzzyfelt

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Jul 20, 2010 #7
    Mmmm good reading, thanks for the links fuzzyfelt.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Jul 20, 2010 #8

    Pythagorean

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    Define "poor". There were actually some experiments done with this (Michel Siffre). It was generally found that people's days extended to 25 hours, only an hour off the 24 hours from the sun's guidance. There are some exceptions, but I believe that's the current belief (that our internal clock isn't much off from the solar clock).

    But also, I live in Alaska. A whole state full of people who get confusing signals from the sun, but we still manage to maintain a day/night schedule with the rest of the world.
     
  10. Jul 20, 2010 #9
    Interesting rates of alcoholism and depression in Alaska... it seems that some people can handle the environment, and others really lose their goober. Now, take the sun out of the equation, and add lighting at odd times and you can get someone to believe in any particular time you choose. Granted, that's more torture than science.
     
  11. Jul 20, 2010 #10

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    It may be the environment, but I think it's a matter of our demographic. The natives are genetically susceptible to alcohol and a lot of people, every year, for decades, have moved here to get away or hide from something (low population density makes it a criminal hideout haven).

    We also have a lot of red-blooded blue-collared republicans who are proud of the last legal high in the US: alcohol.
     
  12. Jul 21, 2010 #11
    I can't argue with anything you've said in this post. So, what's your experience of living in Alaska? You surely don't seem like a drunkard, criminal, or any other stereotype. I admit that I've only met one person who moved to Alaska (she loves it), and one native Alaskan (Inuit) on holiday.
     
  13. Jul 21, 2010 #12

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    Well, there's a lot of small town mentality like I mentioned. I grew up in a commercial fishing family, but diverged to an academic lifestyle.

    A lot of my childhood friends are felons and drunks. My academic circle is a bit more tame.

    Anyway, despite all that, there's lots of land for adventuring here, too.
     
  14. Jul 22, 2010 #13
    Sounds like an interesting thought. As far as one possible input, it seems like the more busy you are, the faster time goes by, and thus at the same time the faster your brain is working. On the contrary, if you feel bored, it seems like time goes by slowly. Also, another thought I have is those experiments testing Einstein's Relativity Theory involve speeds much faster than how fast the neurons in the brain actually fire (relative to that neural pulses are quite slow, a lot slower than electricity through cables and neurons actually work by a wave of sodium/potassium moving across the cell membrane from a gradient of ions, kind of like at a basketball game where they do the "Wave" with hands). If neurons worked much faster and the speed difference compared to that in Relativity Theory experiments, then I think it could be different.

    However, I always think it's quite interesting to test out many various ideas. One possibility I was wondering about is someone could do an experiment with a bunch of people. Participants come in and be told, "We're doing an experiment on how well people can judge how much time passes. One group will be given a stimulant, another a depressant, and the third group will be given the placebo, so you don't know which one you received. Then after a certain amount of time, we'll have you give your best guess of how much time passed." In that case the independent variable would be how much activity the brain has and how fast, plus the dependent variable would be verbal report of estimate on time passing. Then a graph could be made?

    Perhaps you could also give people a task to work on, with them being randomly assigned to being given a lot more work to do or just a little bit of work, for maybe something like 10 minutes, but not being told what the other randomly assigned groups are doing so they can't out guess the experiment? Then they get to guess how much time actually passed and the averages compared?
     
  15. Jul 22, 2010 #14
    Hmmm, that sounds very bittersweet. I guess that's the price of living in one of the last truly rugged frontiers. I'm glad that you've found your niche, and I have to say that the lure of the natural splendor is very intense.

    Physicsdude30: The military, especially the USAF does just that, although not in an experimental setting but in practice. As long as people have access to accurate sunlight or clocks, they are pretty impressive at judging time. Isolation and lighting at irregular times, changing when people are fed very rapidly disorients people, without the need for drugs. It's an interesting field, but too often the research is co-opted for use as "enhanced interrogation".
     
  16. Jul 26, 2010 #15
    Thanks. I know they test time perception. However, do you know if they test the relationship between actual brain activity and time perception, for the OP relativity question?
     
  17. Jul 27, 2010 #16
    AFAIK there isn't a telltale on an EEG or fMRI/PETscan which can tell you how the person is perceiving time.
     
  18. Aug 14, 2010 #17
    I've also wondered if blood pressure and salt/oil/sugar content in the blood stream causes faster perception, reflexes, and activity-speed. I thought of this after seeing or reading something about the high salt/fat/sugar content of fast-food and wondering why this would appeal to people, along with the caffeine of course. I thought maybe that because alertness, speed, and energy are valued by managers as a means of getting more work done per labor-hour, employees might choose fast food because it makes these standards more achievable. In other words, maybe fast food isn't just served and eaten fast, but actually speeds up your body's reflexes and ability to work, including its "processor speed."

    edit: this effect of fast food could be called "LASER:" Labor Amplification by Stimulation of Energy and Reflexes:)
     
  19. Sep 4, 2010 #18

    fuzzyfelt

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    I just remembered some ideas about music and time perception. I'll have a look for links, along the lines of this one
    http://nicolas.gueguen.free.fr/Articles/PsyMusic2002.pdf [Broken]
     
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