For the last few months, I’ve felt what many of my colleagues at my second job posting felt when a young pup (me) pointed out to them, “We all get the same amount of time in the day! Let’s make it happen!” Of course, they would roll their eyes, and plod along with me, as I zipped around them doing some technology related workshop. What took me moments, took forever for them.
The list of encoded memories is so dense [for new experiences], reading them back gives you a feeling that they must have taken forever. But that’s an illusion. “It’s a construction of the brain,” says Eagleman. “The more memory you have of something, you think, ‘Wow, that really took a long time!’ (Source: NPR)
In short, more time results in less productivity when I “slip into the zone.” It wasn’t always like that, but now, it appears that “my time” moves slower than “real time.”
When you first experience something your brain does not have memories to draw on, so it has to create new memories and store large amounts of new sensory data. There is evidence to suggest that the brain uses more energy to create new memories than to recall existing ones. Your first memories of an experience are usually more vivid and detailed than subsequent ones.
Remembering a novel event can bring up a lot of information that makes it feel like it took a long time, or that time passed slowly at the time of the memory. Once the experience is routine, memories are not packed with so much information and the corresponding perception of time is altered.
A year filled with few (and routine) activities can feel, in retrospect, like it passed rather quickly because there isn’t much to remember. In contrast, a year filled with many (new) activities and discoveries – as is common for children – might feel like it was long because you have many varied and dense memories associated with it.
This suggests that older people who are experiencing few new activities or stimuli may also perceive time differently to older people who have retained a life that frequently exposes them to new activities and stimuli. (Read Source)
Whether that’s true or not, it certainly seems worthwhile to continue to expose oneself to “new activities and stimuli.”
How are we pre-disposed towards the routine in schools today?
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