Why time seems to fly as you get older | BBC Ideas

Why time seems to fly as you get older | BBC Ideas


When I was a child,
I was about eight years old, and I went to climb on a house
that was under construction in our neighbourhood. So I stepped up to the edge
and I fell, and the fall seemed
to take a very long time, so then I was looking down
at the ground watching the red brick floor come towards me
and once I hit the ground then I went unconscious but it got
me interested in the question of… When I grew up and
I became a neuroscientist, what I realised was we all come
into the world with this idea that time is just a river that’s
flowing forward in one direction at a fixed speed, but what we know
is that it can be different in your head and in my head, because it’s somehow
a psychological construct, time. In other words, your brain is locked
in silence and darkness inside the vault of your skull
and its job is to figure out what’s happening outside but
it has to do a lot of editing tricks. Your vision and your hearing
process signals at different speeds and yet, when you see
something like a balloon pop or somebody clapping their hands, it appears as though the sight
and sound are synchronised. And what that means is the brain has
to be collecting all the information before it puts together a final
story and serves that up to your conscious perception. It’s like there’s a buffer where
it looks for other signals coming up the pipeline
and as a result it means that we’re all living
a little bit in the past. What we think is happening right
now has actually already transpired some time ago, probably in the
ballpark of about half a second ago. In the lab if I show you a photograph
for half a second on the screen and then I show you that same
photograph again for half a second and then again and again and again. And now I show you
a different photograph for the same amount of time, it will seem as though the new
photograph, the oddball, stays on the screen
for a much longer time. Essentially when the brain
sees something that’s novel, it has to burn more energy
to represent it because it wasn’t expecting that. This feeling that things are going in
slow motion is a trick of memory. In other words, when you’re
in an emergency situation a part of the brain called
the amygdala comes online, this is your emergency
control centre, it lays down memories on what
amounts to a secondary memory track, these are very dense memories. And you’re noticing everything
around you and writing it all down. So when the brain
reads that back out, there’s such a density
of memory there, that the brain’s only conclusion is
that must have taken a long time. And I think this offers an
explanation for why people think that time seems to speed up
as they grow older. And it’s because when you’re a child,
everything’s new to you. You’re figuring out
the rules of the world, you’re writing down a lot of memory, and so when you look back
at the end of a year, you have a lot of memory
of what you’ve learnt. But when you’re much older and
you look back at the end of the year, you’re probably doing approximately
the same stuff you’ve been doing for the X number of previous years. And so it seems like the year
just went by in a flash. Really the way to feel as though
you’ve lived longer is to seek novelty. So you can start
with something simple like putting your wristwatch
on your other hand or brushing your teeth
with your other hand. Something this simple just forces
the brain into a new mode where it can’t predict exactly
what’s going to happen but instead has to be engaged. And what that means is when
you go to bed at night time you have a lot of footage
to draw upon and it feels like your life
is lasting longer. Thanks for watching 🙂 Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos. See you again soon!

8 thoughts on “Why time seems to fly as you get older | BBC Ideas

  1. Today, I got the answer of my question(which I never asked anyone but had in mind.) Thanks! for answering my question.

  2. but sir seeking novelty also can make us mediocre!,addiction and seeking novelty in those addictions is a common example.

  3. It is partly how the brain processes in real time. Older people tend to be busier so have more to focus on. If it were simply new experiences then a wedding, for example, wouldn't seem to fly past for the bride and drag for the guests. Our brain and the universe fit together like 2 paper cups, we draw perception from reality but as human beings we also create an emotional reality of experiences that aren't necessarily based on true perception. Perception of time is, therefore, an internalised state of consciousness so subject to our own emotional state. We process the world by creating an emotional version of it, based on feeling rather than functionality.

  4. I know the Answer I discover it about five years ago but I won't tell you I rather make the video myself so I can make money in youtube because if I tell you, You will make the money and I won't get any and most likely you will take the credit. So how do you like that

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