Monday August 19, 2019

Revealed: Why time slows down as we age

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slowing-time-clock

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Passage of time is a strange phenomenon. Sometimes, it flies-by and other times it drags interminably. For some, time can race and yet for others it can be a stagnant pond. However it might tick off, it is undeniable that time puzzles all.

There is a huge gulf of difference between time (real) as measured by clocks and our own sense of quantification. Eventually, we are the makers of our sense of time.

Deducing Time

By using predictable recurring events occurring naturally, such as day and night and repetition of seasons, humans have created reliable instruments to measure time. To mark their passage, we use clocks and calendars.

Apart from external formulations, we also seem to possess an internal timepiece, one that regulates our circadian (day/night) rhythms and allows us to register the duration of particular events.

The representations stored in our memory use the pacemaker to compare the length of each new event, thereby building up a knowledge bank of what each second, minute or an hour feels like. The development is central to our brain’s ability of registering short durations and transforming them into an understanding of the flow of time across the lifespan.

Still, however, our internal pacemaker does not always keep time as accurately as our external instruments.

Our personal perceptions of time are determined by the physical state, mood and the extent of our focus. For example. when we are concentrating, time appears to pass by slowly, Ditto when we are bored. On the other hand, when our attention is divided (particularly during multi-tasking), time flows by swiftly.

Another factor which influences the perception of time is the emotional quality of an event. Negative emotions such as sadness, depression have the ability to slow down time, as is the case with fear. Joy, fun and frolic have the counter-effect of speeding-up time.

Similarly, age has a lot to do with how we perceive time. Aged people, specifically those above the age of 60 often experience variability of time. Even as days stretch longer, festivities such as Christmas appear nearer and faster.

Causes behind differing time perception

As we age, a number of cognitive processes such as dividing attention between different tasks and concentrating on a particular job change, thereby giving rise to anomalies in time perception.

Also, the frame of reference for the duration of events changes with time. In this respect, there is a thought that the perception of time is in proportion to the length of our lifespan, a theory known as the “proportional theory”.

The theory posits that as we age time begins to feel relatively short as compared to our lifespan. For instance, a 70-year-old man may feel time passing quickly in relation to a teenager who is  15-years-old.

Yet, the theory does not fully explain how we visualize movement of time from second-to-second and day-to-day.

According to scientists, the clarity of our memories is believed to mould our experience of time. The past and other historic events are used for achieving a sense of self-existence across time.

“Reminiscence bump”, the decade between ages 15 and 25 associated with an increase in self-defining memories is the period when most of our vivid experiences occur. As older people move further away from this critical period in their lives, the memory cluster also speeds-up with age.

Clinical disorders such as autism and attention-deficit-hyperactivity are also frequently associated with problems in estimating time intervals. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s also lead to difficulty in time travel to the past.

The answer to solving the problem of differing time perception perhaps lies in strengthening cognitive abilities particularly memory and attention. Meditation and mindfulness can help us in being in the here and now, slowing down the fast moving pace of time.

Next Story

Regular Exercise to Help Prevent Development of Physical Signs of Alzheimer’s

For the results, the research team conducted three studies--in the first study, the researchers examined 317 participants enrolled in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention

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Our research shows that in a late-middle-age population at risk for Alzheimer's disease, physically active individuals experience fewer age-related alterations in biomarkers associated with the disease. Pixabay

Regular exercise is not only good for memory as people age, but it also appears to help prevent the development of physical signs of Alzheimer’s, in those who are at risk for the disease, says a study.

“Our research shows that in a late-middle-age population at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, physically active individuals experience fewer age-related alterations in biomarkers associated with the disease, as well as memory and cognitive functioning,” said Ozioma Okonkwo, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin.

For the results, the research team conducted three studies–in the first study, the researchers examined 317 participants enrolled in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, an ongoing observational study of more than 1,500 people with a history of parents with probable Alzheimer’s dementia.

In the second study, researchers studied 95 people, also from the registry, who were given scores called polygenic risk scores, based on whether they possessed certain genes associated with Alzheimer’s.

Exercise, Development, Alzheimer
Regular exercise is not only good for memory as people age, but it also appears to help prevent the development of physical signs of Alzheimer’s, in those who are at risk for the disease, says a study. Pixabay

Similarly, the third study examined MRIs from 107 individuals from the registry who were asked to run on a treadmill to determine their oxygen uptake efficiency slope, a measure of aerobic fitness.

Participation in the registry included an initial assessment of biological, health and lifestyle factors associated with the disease and follow-up assessments every two to four years.

All participants completed a questionnaire about their physical activity and underwent neuropsychological testing and brain scans to measure several biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers compared data from individuals younger than 60 years with older adults and found a decrease in cognitive abilities as well as an increase in biomarkers associated with the disease in older individuals.

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However, the effects were significantly weaker in older adults who reported engaging in the equivalent of at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week.

“The most interesting part of our research is that we now show evidence that lifestyle habits – in this case regular, moderate exercise – can modify the effect of what is commonly considered a non-modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer’s, in this case, aging,” Okonkwo said.

“Overall, these studies suggest that the negative effect of aging and genetic risk on Alzheimer’s’ disease biomarkers and cognition can be lessened in physically active, older adults at risk for the disease compared with their less active peers.” (IANS)