Time perception has long been a head-scratcher for scientists, and so far there is no universal theory on that. The human brain is not apt to divide time into precise unites (seconds, minutes, hours) in a clock-like fashion. However, recent studies have proved that the brain does have a potential for developing an individual experience-based kind of biological clock.
A research team at Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Norway, has discovered a segment in the brain, where cells are capable of setting timestamps based on experiences that we go through over time. The process takes place in the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC) of the brain, where there are cells that have proved to be responsible to timing our experiences. The research took several years because time is an ever-changing and non-cyclical matter; therefore, it was difficult to code the process taking place in the LEC. Previously, the scientists had coded a space signal in the medial entorhial cortex (MEC), which is adjacent to LEC. However, the scientists did eventually code the signal.
The time perception process is as complex and fluid as time itself. However, in case our experiences are organized in a consecutive pattern, the brain can gradually build an organized time perception pattern. The cells in the areas mentioned above form a time-coding network. Scientists working on the Kavli project experimented on a rat by putting it in a maze with food pieces. The track was built in such a way as to force the rat to visit a number of open-space environments. The scientists measured the time signal generated by the rat's brain and could track the sequence. A bit later, the rat was put into a simpler, a 8-shaped maze track, where it could chase food. The signal became more cyclical and predictable.
The research has shown that the time signal directly depends on the events that we experience. This gives us reasons to believe that people, who follow a set regime for a period of time, are more likely to set a biological clock ticking inside of the brain.
Other Useful Time Perception Resourses:
- Neurosciencenews.com - How the Brain Experiences Time
- US National Library of Medicine | National Institutes of Health - Human time perception and its illusions
- US National Library of Medicine | National Institutes of Health - Time perception: the bad news and the good
- Frontiersin.org - Time Perception and the Experience of Time When Immersed in an Altered Sensory Environment
- Quartz - Feeling tired for no reason? Time to reset your circadian clock
- Theatlantic.com - Your Body's Internal Clock and How It Affects Your Overall Health