Why Time Goes By Faster As We Age

The concept of time is astounding and exciting. Along with the three known spatial dimensions (length, breadth, and height), it is thought to be a fundamental quality of the universe that together make up what Einstein initially characterized as spacetime. In addition, Einstein demonstrated that time is relative and that gravity and acceleration cause it to slow down. Time is thus not a constant that exists everywhere in the cosmos but is relative to the observer.

Beyond the theoretical and practical implications of Einstein’s theories of relativity, however, practically every person is aware that time is relative since it appears to go much more quickly as we age. As a result, how a clock counts time and how we, as humans, experience it vary greatly. Age-related subjective time acceleration is extensively established, although the exact explanation is still debatable.

The fact that a year constitutes 10% of a 10-year-whole old’s existence and even 15% to 20% of their conscious recall is a common argument that might help to explain part of this perspective. However, a 50-year-recallable old’s life span is less than 2% of one year. Thus, the long school days, seemingly eternal summers of elementary school students’ childhoods, and the quickly passing days, weeks, and months that most adults encounter.

The fact that young children have faster heart rates and breathing rates than adults leads to another fascinating hypothesis. Therefore, it is possible that their brains’ electrophysical rhythms and undulations also occur more rapidly. The brain likely contains a pacemaker that slows as individuals age, similar to how the heart’s pacemaker lowers the heartbeat as children mature. This “neural metronome” gives people an internal feeling of the passing of time.

Most young toddlers would say that a minute has gone in 40 seconds or less if you ask them to sit quietly, shut their eyes, and count the seconds. Adults and seniors participating in the same experiment will probably claim that a minute has gone in 60 to 70 seconds. Children may thus have more conscious experiences in a given unit of objective time because their brains “beat” rapidly than adults do. Because of this, children’s perceptions of the passage of time move more slowly than those of adults.

Professor Adrian Bejan has lately proposed an intriguing proposal that expands on the brain pacemaker theory. He provides an argument using the mechanics of brain signal processing (Bejan, 2019). According to Bejan’s approach, as we age, our ability to interpret visual information quickly decreases, which is why time seems to pass more rapidly.

This is due to the distinction between entirely subjective “thought time” and objectively quantifiable “clock time.” Mental time, or memory, has never been verifiable or widely agreed upon, unlike the number of vibrations of a cesium atom, which is the current definition of one second. It is a process of reconstruction that requires a lot of mental images (i.e., A. A. Lazarus, 1978). According to Bejan, time represents how we interpret changes in visual stimuli. We can observe change; therefore, we know something occurred. And everything constantly shifts from cause to effect, in one direction. A shattered glass won’t ever put itself back together and leap onto the table it fell from.

In this manner, our perception of time is always a process of looking backward, dependent on memory, and thus relative—but not solely in the sense that Einstein intended. Memory is more than simply a collection of pictures; it also has sensory components. However, because vision is our primary sense, a large portion of our memory is visual.

A camera, film, projector, and movie may all be considered metaphors for an essential aspect of visual memory and its connection to time.

Similar to movie frames, the more frames one sees in a second, the slower it seems like the picture is moving. The image appears to move faster when fewer frames per second are shown. In contrast to regular or rapid motion, slow motion displays many more frames per second. Bejan claims that as we age, the machinery in our brains that forms neuro visual memories slows and records fewer “frames-per-second.” In other words, more actual time elapses between the awareness of each successive mental picture. Children see and store more memory frames or mental images per unit of time than adults do, which causes them to retain more visual information when they reflect on events—that is, the passage of time.

This makes it seem like time is moving more quickly as we age. When we are young, we have far more mental representations in our heads every second than we do as we age. Time seems to move more slowly while the movie is played, much like a slow-motion camera that takes many more frames per second than one that shoots at standard speed.

Bejan contends that the size and complexity of our brain’s neural networks grow as we develop and age, which is the underlying reason for this subjective, temporal shifting. As a result, the processing of electrochemical signals must now cover longer distances and more routes. Additionally, as we age, nerves get more damaged, which increases the flow of impulses against them and slows down processing even more.

People are often surprised at how much they recall from days that seemed to linger forever in their childhood, as Bejan puts it.  Their experiences weren’t necessarily more profound or essential; they were just being processed quickly.

Of all, one of the many unsolved and maybe unknowable mysteries of the brain is the phenomenon of time passing faster as we age. The revolutionary contributions of Einstein have been integrated into classical physics and extended into the field of quantum mechanics. Similar to this, it is likely that a quantum theory of consciousness will be required to understand the complex and multidimensional workings of the mind.

Keep in mind: Be healthy, feel good, think and behave well.

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