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Journal Article

Citation

Stetson C, Fiesta MP, Eagleman DM. PLoS One 2007; 2(12): e1295.

Affiliation

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, United States of America.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2007, Public Library of Science)

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0001295

PMID

18074019

PMCID

PMC2110887

Abstract

Observers commonly report that time seems to have moved in slow motion during a life-threatening event. It is unknown whether this is a function of increased time resolution during the event, or instead an illusion of remembering an emotionally salient event. Using a hand-held device to measure speed of visual perception, participants experienced free fall for 31 m before landing safely in a net. We found no evidence of increased temporal resolution, in apparent conflict with the fact that participants retrospectively estimated their own fall to last 36% longer than others' falls. The duration dilation during a frightening event, and the lack of concomitant increase in temporal resolution, indicate that subjective time is not a single entity that speeds or slows, but instead is composed of separable subcomponents. Our findings suggest that time-slowing is a function of recollection, not perception: a richer encoding of memory may cause a salient event to appear, retrospectively, as though it lasted longer.


Language: en

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