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December 21 2012

Do Humans Have a Biological Stopwatch?


When we witness the passage of time, according to noted physicist Paul Davies, we are actually observing how the “later states of the world differ from earlier states that we still remember.” In that sense time is like a movie: We are seeing slightly altered images playing in rapid succession.

That might explain why we perceive time as moving forward, but it fails to account for why we often perceive time moving at varying speeds. Why does it speed up when we’re having fun, but slow down when we’re bored? Most of us are fairly good at measuring short time intervals—seconds, minutes—but neuroscientists aren’t sure how we do it.

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