Our Consciousness of Time

I stumbled across an excellent article on time perception at a site called “dichotomistic.” The article is well-written and not overly scholarly. Most of the readily accessible articles on time perception are excerpts from scholarly publications. I have an avid interest in the subject and yet they are too dry for me. But not this one, titled: our consciousness of time, by John McCrone.

Clearly our ability to sense time is the work of brain processes that sometimes go awry. Most of us take the sense for granted-but not the handful of researchers around the world who are hell bent on discovering where it comes from in the brain. ‘Now it’s obvious that a sense of time is something the brain must actively construct, there are questions to answer,” says Russell Church, a neuroscientist at Brown University in Rhode Island.

The active construction of time by the brain suggests that one of the best ways we have of learning about the state of the brain constructing time for us, is to measure what the brain has constructed – an estimate of time passed. Brain science researchers are still figuring out how time perception works, but that is no reason not to let your own perception of time give you insights into yourself.

The shrinking human brain

This article has a lengthy discussion of the reasons why human brains seem to have been shrinking pretty dramatically over the past 5000 years. I think a few of the hypotheses presented may be combining, with nutrition during the period of civilization dawning being a strong candidate for having contributed.

But the hypothesis I find most compelling is the idea that as we have become domesticated. We have been selectively bred for low-aggression and living in close quarters. We might not have viewed our larger brained ancestors as smarter than us in any sense except for one: they could survive in the wild on their personal wits alone, without culture or having read a single word in their lifetimes.

via If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking? | Human Evolution | DISCOVER Magazine.