American researchers reveal a phenomenon that we all know: the older we get, the more we feel like time speeds up. But how to explain it?
Oh, how time flies! And the longer it goes, the more you get the impression... that it goes by quickly. It's a strange acceleration in our perception of time (and not just when we're having fun) whose origins have been discovered by researchers, nestled deep in the core of our brain.
Adrian Bejan, of Duke University in North Carolina, said in a statement:
People are often amazed to remember so vividly these days which seemed to last forever in their youth. It's not that their sensations were much deeper or more meaningful, it was just that they were being processed in a burst [by the brain].
Processes that slow down
In a publication in the journal European Reviewin March 2019, the scientist revealed that the evolution of our perception of passing time is linked to a slowing down of the processes during which the brain analyses images. A reflection of cerebral ageing that can be observed directly in the folds of our brain.
As they mature, the networks of nerves and neurons in the brain keep on growing, and become more complex, making more sinuous the path followed by electrical signals. And in addition to this increasingly complex path, the information paths that go through our heads also end up degrading, thus adding a few more obstacles to the passage of electrical signals.
The same film, but with fewer images
The mental images that your brain perceives and processes will therefore slow down significantly. Adrian Bejan says the proof of the phenomenon can be found in eyes. The eyes of children have much more frequent movements than those of adults. According to him, this is a sign that they perceive and process information in greater numbers than more elderly people.
Just like a film from which some images have been removed, life therefore seems to accelerate as we age:
The human mind thinks time is speeding up, when it's the perceived images that change. The present is different from the past because the mental outlook has changed, not because someone's clock is starting to run fast. Days seemed to last longer in your youth because your young mind received more images in a day than the same mind in its old age.