Differences in sub-temporal perception synchronized with the heartbeat have been called “temporal wrinkles”.
The heart has long been called the “watch” or rather ticker is slang for the heart. What’s new today is that the results of a new study show why this may be the case more than we previously imagined. Researchers at Cornell University have shown that our perception of time changes with the length of the heartbeat, according to New Atlas, citing Psychophysiology.
Built-in time tool
For some adults, whose average heart rate is 60 beats per minute, the heart can be a built-in timer. But even for those who don’t have such a delicate pulse, new research from Cornell University shows that the heart can still influence the perception of time.
Study lead author Saeed Sadeghi, a Ph.D. student in the field of psychology, describes how he and his colleagues came to this conclusion in a paper with the interesting title, “Wrinkles in Subtemporal Perception Synchronized with the Heart.”
Sadeghi and his research team designed an experiment connecting 45 people between the ages of 18 and 21, using ECG machines designed to measure each heartbeat – and the distance between them – down to the millisecond level. They also linked the ECG to a computer programmed to play a tone in each heartbeat that lasts only 80 to 180 milliseconds.
Very slight discrepancy
In humans, even those with more steady heartbeats, there is very little variation in the amount of time each heartbeat takes. The researchers wanted to see if this contrast changed the participants’ perceptions of time.
The sense of time
“The heartbeat is a rhythm that the brain uses to give a sense of the passage of time, but it is not linear, it is constantly contracting and expanding,” said study co-author Professor Adam Anderson, Professor of Psychology at the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University.
“Even in these intervals between moments, the sense of time fluctuates,” Professor Anderson added, noting that “the pure effect of the heart, from beat to beat, helps create a sense of time.”