Sapolsky’s final chapter Open Season got me thinking about why we remember more when we’re younger or at least why we have these ultra vivid memories of for instance, that Christmas that Santa left a shiny pink Barbie bike next to the twinkling evergreen, or that time that those mischievous boy neighbors thought that playing cops and robbers and tying you up and tossing you in that black fort and locking you in to “rot for being bad” was a good idea… yeah, that really happened and I freaked out and threatened to “BLOW their house down!!” After starting to kick from the inside, they finally realized that I was fully capable of destroying their handy craftsmanship…suckersss!!
Ok so ever wonder why time seems to tick by faster as we get older?
Well listen to this NPR segment! NPR science correspondent Robert Krulwich interviews Warren Meck, a Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, about this crazy phenomenon: as we age, our birthdays, school years, holidays, and the events that come and go seem to fleet by us faster and faster. So by the time we hit our 40s or 50s, we’ll have this sense and feeling that the clock is ticking much faster than we are.
Here’s a brief explanation of what has been theorized:
KRULWICH: But why? Why does time move faster as we get older?
Prof. MECK: That’s an interesting question.
KRULWICH: And the answer is, nobody knows. There are theories, of course, from psychologists, from neuroscientists who’ve been doing experiments. For example, one thought is maybe as we age, something changes in our brains so we lose the ability to measure time.
Prof. MECK: I’m thinking here of a clock idea – that each of us have a clock in our brain, and that does slow down over time.
KRULWICH: What do you mean, a clock in our brain? What in our brain would tick or tock?
Prof. MECK: Well, the neural conduction velocity slow down, but the…
KRULWICH: The neural conduction velocity. What is that?
Prof. MECK: Oh, it’s the speed at which our brain cells beat or pulse.
KRULWICH: Meaning that time flows through us differently when we’re older. Evidence for this comes from a classic experiment, which in a very rough way, we did right out on the streets of Washington, D.C. I asked my colleague Jessica Goldstein to go out and to stop pedestrians who looked either very young or very old.
KRULWICH: So Jessica then asked these two groups, the older ones and the younger ones, to close their eyes and then do a very simple time measurement.
JESSICA GOLDSTEIN: What I’d like you to do is to tell me when you think one minute has passed.
So what did they find during this experiment? Turns out that when younger individuals call the minute they usually turn out to be 55, 60 or 65 seconds on the clock. However, with older people, around 60 and up, on average, they wait longer before they say that a minute has elapsed…like 90 seconds!!! The theory being that because our brains are pulsing differently, we thinking more slowly and in turn, the world seems to be going by us faster.
The conclusion: perhaps there is more new in our lives when we’re young, or maybe our brains pulse differently when we’re young, or could it be that when we’re young, each year hold more value to us. “Whatever the reason, sooner or later, everybody gets this feeling.”