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Time and Body

  1. Jul 28, 2004 #1
    I was just curious as to what mechanism in our body tells time. How is it that we can count 1,2,3,4,5,6,ect to a moderate accuracy? I would guess it gaugues something harmonic, but what do I know. Any help would be Grrrreat!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2004 #2
    I'm gonna guess we have no natural ability to count 1, 2, 3 etc. and that we just learn the pattern of seconds by repetition and memory.
  4. Jul 28, 2004 #3
    right, natural ability... stemming from?

    And yes, I do believe the ability to count does come from memory, because we compute units like seconds and minutes only after we learn them.

    But like I said, this natural ability is undefined thus far, any ideas anyone?
  5. Jul 28, 2004 #4


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    Telling time is entirely different from counting skills. The mechanism for telling time involves pacemaker cells...cells in which clock genes function in a series of events that maintains a 24 hour rhythm. One home for these cells is in the brain...a place called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (named because it sits just above the optic chiasm, which makes sense since these cells also receive information from the retina, another place with pacemaker cells). The suprachiasmatic nucleus is considered the "master" pacemaker for the body, and that in turn tells the other cells of the body how to keep time. Though, recent studies suggest that other cells in the body can be pacemakers too. All cells that have pacemaker function have a certain complement of these clock genes, and clock proteins translated from these genes that confer this function.

    There's an excellent animation that illustrates this at this site:
  6. Jul 29, 2004 #5
    I said I think that we have no natural ability to count in the rhythm of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. and that it's just a learned ability.
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