Tate Williams

Blogger hacked his brain’s perception of time

Tate Williams February 16, 2012

Matt Danzico has concluded that he lived 14 hours, 43 minutes and 29 seconds more than everyone else in 2011. That’s about two-and-a-half minutes of extra perceived life each day.

If you buy into the premise of the amateur self-experimentation blog The Time Hack, Matt Danzico¬†intentionally subjected himself to one new experience daily, and to some extent, “hacked” his brain’s perception of time. His hypothesis was based on research that suggests new experiences impact how the brain perceives the passage of time, and how well our brain records time’s passage.

Danzico, a Washington, D.C. journalist for BBC, spent an entire year rigorously documenting how he perceived time’s passage compared to how it actually passed, while performing various activities. He used a stopwatch, a camera and a video camera to document the events, and recorded his observations on his blog. This alone would be an impressive display of self-documentation, but the hack involved performing one new act each and every day of the year. The activities included boxing a real-life boxer (Day 1), eating from a public trash can (Day 100), and getting an enema (Day 355).

He’s compiled an impressive set of data, which he’s offering up for crowdsourced analysis, but aside from the general conclusion that he did, in fact, perceive more time than actually passed, his wrap-up post offers some insight into how it worked. For example, time flew while he was playing games, but activities that were physically exhausting or perceived as “safe” stretched beyond the actual time elapsed.

His blog is fascinating (and really pretty), and I’m sad to say that I only learned of it after the experiment concluded. You could easily suck the joy out of it by poking holes in his methods, or you could admire an astounding feat of self-exploration and its intriguing results. Personally, I’d attribute at least some of the time warp to the documentation. Or at the very least, the paying of attention. If there’s one thing you can learn from blogging, journaling, meditating, going to therapy, or just trying new things, focusing on what’s going on in life seems to have a way of making things richer, deeper and a little longer. 14 hours, 43 minutes, and 29 trash-eating seconds longer, to be exact.

The Time Hack [via Brainpickings]

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