On 15 October 2014 Maria Tamm will defence her doctoral thesis "Psychological and physiological implications of time perception" in the Council of the Faculty of the Social Sciences and Education.
Senior Researcher Kairi Kreegipuu, University of Tartu
Professor Jüri Allik, University of Tartu
Professor John H. Wearden, Keele University, UK
Human brain is very accurate in estimating time and thereby, the existence of an internal clock model with biological origin has been suggested. According to this model, the internal clock is comprised of the pacemaker, which generates a series of pulses to be recorded in the accumulator and these pulses are assumed to serve as the "raw" representation of experienced time. The functioning of the internal clock is explained by the arousal-pacemaker link. Earlier works with temperature manipulations have demonstrated that subjective time is extremely sensitive to changes in core temperature. Specifically, the subjective time tends to run faster than the objective time, resulting in perceived dilation of time. Moreover, affective response to prolonged exercise in extreme environments contributes to the sense of time. Current thesis showed that perceived fatigue in such conditions is a possible mediator of temperature effects on time perception. However, emotional information is also more efficient in capturing attention, which in turn modulates time perception. For example, if we have been reading an interesting book, the time is experienced to pass rather quickly, whereas if we are waiting for someone and look at the clock often, the time tends to pass really slowly. The differences between various emotion effects with visual stimuli might reflect the approach-motivated behaviour regarding positive images and avoidance-related behaviour regarding negative images. However, differences in timing emotional images suggest that both arousal and attention mechanism are relevant in affecting time perception. For example, if certain emotional stimuli capture more attention, it might reflect the induced level of arousal. Furthermore, altered time perception is implicated as a general property of impulsive behaviour, indicating a faster cognitive tempo of impulsive individuals and possible differences in affective experience. In conclusion, the psychological state and more specifically, context-specific affective response might be responsible for alterations in time perception in addition to physiological changes, therefore both arousal and attention mechanisms should be considered regarding the internal clock model.