Why Time Perception is Important
Time perception has been heavily researched over the past centuries and is one of the earliest topics of experimental psychology. It includes both how we perceive the passage of time and the feeling of time passing by, as well as how our brains structure time with the serial order of events that occur in our daily lives. Our sense of time is fundamental to relatively all of our activities in life as a shared human experience. However, time perception is a complex topic that presents opposition to theoretical progress and challenges for researchers.
Recent studies have found that the perception of time is sensitive to external factors in experimental settings, affected by changes in timing strategies and key variables, and usually is not regulated towards timing in the “real world”, making it difficult to comprehend. However, newly discovered research provides insights to better understand the information-processing bases of time perception and how this relates to psychopathological conditions which VR can help.
Research behind Time Perception
Studies believe that the perception of time is fundamental to our experience and central to virtually all of our activities. However, there is not one, single way to explain time perception causing many “big questions” to remain unanswered. Researchers debate the relationship between physical time and the growth of subject duration, whether timing is based on local or centralized processes, what triggers our internal clocks, and the relationship between the scalar property of timing and scale invariance. These factors combined in opposition make it difficult to form a single explanation on how we process time making it hard for our brains to comprehend time perception itself.
On the contrary, newly discovered research presents techniques to slow down your perception of time and ways that VR can be used to address psychopathological conditions affected by a disrupted time perception.
How to slow down your Perception of Time
Our perception of time is strongly influenced by how well we live in the present moment which can be measured by how often we pay attention to our surroundings, experience change and new adventures to stimulate our minds, and reflect on our past experiences. There are a few techniques we can implement in our daily lives to slow down the passage of time and avoid feeling as if time is passing by uncontrollably.
First, it is necessary to be constantly engaged in the present with a childlike sense of curiosity and wonder. Going back to our childhood mindset makes us more grounded in the present moment through curiosity and excitement towards new things which can deflect focus and stress from the past or future.
Second, add variety to your routine through new activities and experiences to differentiate your days from one another which will avoid having your perception of time feeling blended together.
Third, be highly attentive at every moment and aware of your surroundings to allow your internal clock to maximize its process capacity.
Finally, always remember that time is not the enemy and how quickly we perceive the passage of time is dependent on our own perspective. Try to cherish every moment and switch up your routine to avoid feeling like you are running out of time.
How VR can help
Psychopathological conditions such as depressive disorders, Schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorder can modify the sense of time perception and Virtual Reality can be used to modify time experience in order to reduce symptoms. Therapists can use virtual reality to manipulate time perception, aiding them in the treatment of their patients with these psychopathological conditions.
In Virtualtimes, we are analyzing and studying the sense and structure of time by generating a flow state with the use of VR gaming. The experience of time can be distorted due to certain psychopathological conditions. Funded by the European Union, this project aims to provide individuals with opportunities to re-experience and normalize a variant and distorted sense of time.