Teach Your Brain to Stretch Time

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Time is only as fast or as slow as your brain perceives it to be, and now researchers are finding that it may be possible to gain some control over the pace of life.

Learning how to slow down time, or getting into “the zone,” as it’s called, is not commonplace. But it is, at least theoretically, possible.

Your brain keeps track of seconds and minutes passing using a system called “interval timing.” New research has identified that certain parts of your brain are responsible for this timekeeping, including estimating how much time has passed. But these estimates are far from concrete.

For instance, it’s well-known that time goes by faster when you’re having fun, and seems slower when you’re bored. Certain drugs, such as caffeine and Valium, can also speed up or slow down time, respectively. Health conditions, too, including schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease, also interfere with your brain’s perception of time.

While drug companies believe they could make a drug that would alter your perception of time, researchers have revealed another method: your mind.

It appears that taking your focus off of time will make it seem to slow down. The Dalai Lama used the example of meditation, during which time slows down as you turn your focus away from your internal clock.

Though the research on how to get into “the zone” is just beginning, the early work shows that the attention you pay, or don’t pay, to the passage of time significantly impacts your perception of it.
New Scientist February 4, 2006

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