It is evident to individuals who have been involved in vehicle accidents that time appears to pass more slowly when confronted with a near-fatal situation.
Scientists now believe it may be a brain survival strategy to boost our chances of survival.
The Role of Emotion in Time Processing
Perceived time slowing could be the result of hyperfocus in the brain, allowing individuals to respond to the situation more effectively.
A psychologist at Liverpool John Moores University in England, Professor Ruth Ogden, recently published an article in The Conversation in which she explains why time may appear to pass more slowly in the event of a heart attack, automobile accident, or other near-death experiences.
“The manner in which our brain processes time is intricately linked to the manner in which it processes emotion,” explained Ogden.
The Connection Between Emotion and Time
This is due to the connection between brain regions that regulate emotion and time processing.
“The activation caused by the brain’s attempt to maintain stability during periods of heightened emotion alters its ability to process time,” Ogden explained.
Time stalling may be a sign of the fight-or-flight response, which prepares people to fight or flee perceived threats.
Off-the-cuff reactions in perilous situations have the potential to exacerbate the situation. By mentally slowing down, you may gather your thoughts and create a strategy.
In 2012, University of Turku scientists found that our internal clock can explain time slowing.
Increasing the clock’s speed should increase the amount of ticks every interval.
By attributing a lengthier duration to more ticks, subjects inflate the actual duration.
And this does not simply occur when an individual is in peril.
The Influence of Novel Experiences
Michael Flaherty, an Eckerd College sociology professor, revealed in 2017 that a new adventure can pause time.
Flaherty wrote for The Conversation, “The perceived passage of time can slow down when we are doing something new, such as traveling to an exotic locale or learning a difficult skill.”
Time seems to move slowly when little is happening and fast when a lot is happening.
That is to say, the level of intricacy of the situation is significantly either elevated or diminished from the average.