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old_guitarist OP t1_jbv5oms wrote


Perception of passing time can be distorted. Emotional experiences, particularly arousal, can contract or expand experienced duration via their interactions with attentional and sensory processing mechanisms. Current models suggest that perceived duration can be encoded from accumulation processes and from temporally evolving neural dynamics. Yet all neural dynamics and information processing ensue at the backdrop of continuous interoceptive signals originating from within the body. Indeed, phasic fluctuations within the cardiac cycle impact neural and information processing.

Here, we show that these momentary cardiac fluctuations distort experienced time and that their effect interacts with subjectively experienced arousal. In a temporal bisection task, durations (200–400 ms) of an emotionally neutral visual shape or auditory tone (experiment 1) or of an image displaying happy or fearful facial expressions (experiment 2) were categorized as short or long.

Across both experiments, stimulus presentation was time-locked to systole, when the heart contracts and baroreceptors fire signals to the brain, and to diastole, when the heart relaxes, and baroreceptors are quiescent. When participants judged the duration of emotionally neural stimuli (experiment 1), systole led to temporal contraction, whereas diastole led to temporal expansion.

Such cardiac-led distortions were further modulated by the arousal ratings of the perceived facial expressions (experiment 2). At low arousal, systole contracted while diastole expanded time, but as arousal increased, this cardiac-led time distortion disappeared, shifting duration perception toward contraction. Thus, experienced time contracts and expands within each heartbeat—a balance that is disrupted under heightened arousal.


nametag-username t1_jbw0iaw wrote

Gonna need a summary of that summary, Boss.


kidnoki t1_jbwqrr7 wrote

Your heart beat causes time to dilate and contract because it feeds your brain and sensory organs.


-downtone_ t1_jbx6xa3 wrote

At low arousal, as the heart contracts/beats, time seems to go by faster. As the heart relaxes, time seems to go by slower.

As arousal increases, the pattern I mentioned about the heart beat/relax cycle disappears. Under high arousal, it shifts towards feeling like time goes by faster regardless of the beat/relax cycle.

That's how I read this at least.


LiteralSymbolism t1_jbxo7qq wrote

Great ELI5, but I think you may have gotten those backwards? I’ve been trying to figure it out, but check this part of the paper:

“…with stimuli presented at diastole judged, on average, 9 ms longer (M = 305, SD = 25) than those at systole (M = 314, SD = 26).”

I think this saying in diastole (when the heart is beating), the time the participant felt an image was up was 9ms longer than when the heart wasn’t beating, and I would interpret that as time “expanding” since you feel like you’re spending a longer amount of time looking at a stimulus than you really are. Maybe this is just confusion about time “expanding” vs “contracting”.

Anyway, cool theory!


fatsynatsy t1_jc0lelb wrote

Diastole is the phase where the heart is relaxing/filling


-downtone_ t1_jbyd3e4 wrote

That's what I thought at first but the time perception wiki states this: > Tachypsychia is a neurological condition that alters the perception of time, usually induced by physical exertion, drug use, or a traumatic event. For someone affected by tachypsychia, time perceived by the individual either lengthens, making events appear to slow down,[83] or contracts, with objects appearing as moving in a speeding blur.[84][85]

I'd say they need to be more descriptive because the language is not consistent it appears. I think it should be consistent. Thanks for looking at that if that's the case.


spikedragonborn t1_jbw5d4e wrote

can you explain it in dumb dumb words plz? i maybe smart but this is way out of my league.


LiteralSymbolism t1_jbxn67m wrote

You know how sometimes a few minutes or seconds feel really slow, or they go by super fast? This paper focused on the small side, on those few seconds that sometimes feel slow or fast, and they thought “hey maybe it’s related to the heart beating.”

So they went a proved a relationship between when your heart beats and the perceived passage of time, specifically during the 200-400 millisecond windows of “your heart is pumping blood” and “your heart is chilling, waiting to pump blood”. In the first state, time seemed to expand (ie felt longer), in the second state, time seemed to contract (or felt faster) according to study participants.

They also found that this effect nearly completely went away as one becomes more aroused, likely due to other more important factors like your brain interpreting something more interesting, which could easily muddy the results.