It’s About Time

Two new mentions of psychological science in the news, both about time.

In the first, when people are asked think about the future or the past the tend to either lean forward or backward respectively (link to New York Times article, link to short article in Psych. Science). This new study is couched in the area of research known as embodied cognition (or grounded cognition). Researchers at Texas A&M University have also found that when participants lie back reclined they tend to have a broader attentional focus, and sitting forward leads to narrower attentional focus (as measured by the Navon Letter task).

The second mention is an interview with Baylor professor, David Eagleman, about his research on time and the subjective feeling that time flies as we age (link, complete with audio! and a video with Homer Simpson!). Prof. Eagleman argues that the present isn’t any “faster” than the past, its just that the past, and novel experiences in general, are encoded more richly and thus “reading them back gives you a feeling that they must have taken forever.”

-Posted by Tyler

    • ashley
    • February 4th, 2010

    I saw a great talk by Eagleman once, in which he recounted evidence that time doesn’t actually slow down when you are scared. This was merely in the introduction of his talk, but I remember it for its novelty and how amused I was. He developed a device that is worn on one’s wrist that flickers numbers. The flickering can be set to slightly faster than a person’s perception for seeing the numbers. He then had his graduate students wear the devices (tuned to their perception) and then they bungee-jumped. The idea is that if time slows down in a scary situation (i.e., while bungee-jumping), then they should have been able to read the flickering wrist devices, but the poor graduate students were not able to read the flickering wristbands ;o)

  1. Hmm.. I wouldn’t mind being one of his participants if I got to go bungee jumping, I wonder how hard that was to get through the IRB?

    Eagleman is actually coming to A&M today to speak at the neuroscience brown-bag. I will be in attendance.

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