It’s been said that time flies when you’re having fun, but research suggests that the minutes actually seem to go by faster when there’s little going on to grab our attention.
he University of Sussex has found that when there is more happening, people perceive that time goes on longer.
That’s why an activity-packed weekend seems to add to the available time, while a boring week at the office slips by unnoticed.
“These results are exciting because they demystify how our sense of time is formed in the brain — the brain just ‘counts’ how much ‘stuff’ has happened, which is very intuitive,” said Dr. Maxine Sherman, Research Associate at the School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Sussex.
“I think most of us have had the experience of rushing around or being lost in thought – it feels like a long time and we’re surprised to find out how much we’ve done physically or mentally in just a few hours.
“If it was a day when not much happened, you might think: ‘Where did the day go, I didn’t do anything’.
“Alternatively, maybe you’ve had a very busy day. You might be thinking, ‘Wow, today felt like four days of work’.”
For the study, the researchers asked 40 volunteers to watch video clips of either a boring office environment or a busy street scene while recording activity in sensory areas of the brain. They were then asked to rate how long each clip lasted.
Researchers found that the street scene clips were perceived as being 5pc longer than they actually are, while the boring office scenes were perceived as being shorter.
The researchers saw many changes in brain activity in the visual areas when viewing the busy street scenes. When more changes in cognitive activity were recorded, participants felt that the videos lasted longer.
The results suggest that the brain’s basis for experiencing time is based on how much activity is perceived by the senses, rather than functioning like a clock measuring minutes.
dr Warrick Roseboom of the University of Sussex said: “This new work is an important step in deepening our understanding of the basis of the human brain’s experience of time.”
The research was published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/time-flies-but-not-when-you-are-having-fun-say-scientists-41838680.html Time flies, but not when you’re having fun, scientists say