Wednesday January 22, 2020

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

Children Spend Too Much Time On Electronic Devices: Study

Infants are spending too much time on screen, says a study

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Children using devices
Researchers have found that the amount of time children are spending each day on screen is increasing at an alarming rate. Pixabay

Researchers have found that the amount of time children are spending each day watching television or using a computer or mobile device is increasing at an alarming rate.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found that children’s daily screen time increased from 53 minutes at age 12 months to more than 150 minutes at 3 years old.

According to the researchers, by age 8, children in US were more likely to log the highest amount of screen time if they had been in home-based childcare or were born to first-time mothers.

“Our results indicate that screen habits begin early, this finding suggests that interventions to reduce screen time could have a better chance of success if introduced early,” said study senior auhtor Edwina Yeung, NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the US.

Children screen time
By age 8, children in US are more likely to log the highest amount of screen time. Pixabay

For the findings, the research team analysed data from the Upstate KIDS Study, originally undertaken to follow the development of children conceived after infertility treatments and born in New York State from 2008 to 2010.

Mothers of nearly 4,000 children who took part in the study responded to questions on their kids’ media habits when they were 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months of age. They also responded to similar questions when the children were seven and eight years old.

The study compiled additional demographic information on the mothers and children from birth records and other surveys.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding digital media exposure for children under 18 months of age, introducing children 18 to 24 months of age to screen media slowly, and limiting screen time to an hour a day for children from 2 to 5 years of age.

In the current study, researchers found that 87 per cent of the children had screen time exceeding these recommendations.

However, while screen time increased throughout toddlerhood, by age 7 and 8, screen time fell to under 1.5 hours per day. The researchers believe this decrease relates to time consumed by school-related activities.

Children using electronic devices
87 per cent of the children exceed the recommended screen time. Pixabay

The study authors classified the children into two groups based on how much their average daily screen time increased from age 1 to age 3.

The first group, 73 per cent of the total, had the lowest increase, from an average of nearly 51 minutes a day to nearly an hour and 47 minutes a day.

The second group, 27 per cent of the total, had the highest increase, from nearly 37 minutes of screen time a day to about four hours a day.

Also Read- Consumption Of Sugary Beverages Declines Among US Kids: Study

Higher levels of parental education were associated with lower odds of inclusion in the second group.

In addition, girls were slightly less likely to be in the second group, compared to boys, while children of first-time mothers were more likely to be in the high-increase group, the study said. (IANS)