What if it was possible to control time perception? What if you could slow down time when you are enjoying yourself in the company of your friends and make it flow faster when you are at a boring office meeting?

A new understanding of how the human brain processes time could someday allow scientists to manage a personal sense of time and therefore, control time perception.

According to new research, the “clock” in the brain is decentralized and has different neural circuits with their own timing mechanisms for specific activities.

This finding not only increases the probability of artificial manipulation of time perception, but it could also explain why our sense of time changes under different circumstances, for example, when we have fun and when we are under pressure.

The experiments

For the purposes of this study, two researchers from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, trained rhesus monkeys (capuchins) to perform tasks that required to move their eyes between two dots at regular intervals of one second.

The results of the experiment suggest that one day, scientists may be able to control the subjective perception of the passage of time, experimenting with relevant neural connections in the brain. After all, the perception of time is purely subjective and has a lot to do with the way our brain works.

In addition, the results of the study provide an explanation of why the subjective sense of how much time has passed changes under certain conditions.

For example, when a person is under stress, the amount of chemicals (such as adrenaline) in their brain changes, and adrenaline, in turn, affects the rate of neuronal activity.

According to Geoffrey Ghose, lead researcher of the study, any change in the pace of this activity is sufficient to alter the sense of time. Will it be possible to fully control time perception one day? We’ll see.

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