by Jade Small

We know that time does not actually speed up as we age, however, the perception of time flying seems to be because we experience fewer mental images as our brain processing decrease with age according to a paper by Professor to Adrian Bejan from Duke University,  published by the European Review in March.

According to Bejan, “People are often amazed at how much they remember from days that seemed to last forever in their youth. It’s not that their experiences were much deeper or more meaningful, it’s just that they were being processed in rapid fire.”

Starting from birth, our eyes receive and process mental images at an astounding rate. Of course, we have a lot to learn at that age and as a result, their days, weeks, months and year seem much longer because they seemed filled with more time. In contrast, the older we get, the slower the rate we receive and process mental images and the shorter our days seem to be.

In a statement, Bejan explained: “the human mind senses time changing when the perceived images change.” In other words, “the present is different from the past because the mental viewing has changed, not because somebody’s clock rings.”

The human eye moves constantly, ‘snaps’ an image for processing and moves on to the next, called saccades, or focuses for a few seconds, known as fixations. Research shows that an average adult’s eye makes three to five saccades per second, with fixations of 200 to 300 milliseconds. In contrast, children make many more saccades per second and have much shorter fixation times.

As we age, our brain takes longer to process information from the retina and Bejan explains that occurs because our neural networks become more complex and the signals have to travel further to reach different parts of the brain. Damage to these pathways will slow these signals even more.

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