Warning! Layman's question! =)

caudle at irp.nidr.nih.gov caudle at irp.nidr.nih.gov
Fri Jan 6 11:31:28 EST 1995

On 5 Jan 1995 12:07:09 -0800, 
David Brockman Wheeler  <dwheeler at leland.Stanford.EDU> wrote:

>In article <53129.caudle at irp.nidr.nih.gov>,
>caudle at irp.nidr.nih.gov <caudle at irp.nidr.nih.gov> wrote:
>>On 4 Jan 1995 19:06:16 GMT, 
>>Tom Salyers  <at425 at yfn.ysu.edu> wrote:
>>>  Greetings.  I'm trying to write a science fiction story in my spare time,
>>>  My central question is this: is the human sense of passing time a factor
>>>of neurochemistry? And if so, would it be possible (given the right level
>>>of knowledge and technology, of course) to manufacture a drug that would
>>>alter that sense--to make two years, for instance, feel like fifty?
>>IMHO -  The passage of time is really a physical event rather than a 
>>chemical one.
>>Information is stored and then the decay is monitored to determine the passage
>>of time.  
>If this is indeed the mechanism then it would have a neurochemical basis...
>or don't you believe that information storage involves chemical messengers?

Transmission of information does involve chemical messengers, but storage is
likely to be either physical (example: changes in synaptic strength) or 
statistical (correlations in neuronal firing, etc.). Chemical messengers tend
to diffuse or degrade to rapidly to be of much significance in information
>>perceived to have passed can easily be altered by changing the rate at 
>>which the stored information is lost.  In your clock, you could simply 
>>replace the oscilator with one that has a different period.  In the brain 
>>this sort of change in the rate of information decay appears to occur quite 
>In addition, I would suggest that external cues are very important in 
>modulating any intrinsic timing mechanisms...

Good point!!! We constantly readjust our internal perception of time to some
external clock.
>>For science fiction, however, it would be intriguing to implant some 
>>electronic device in a critical region of the brain, say the locus ceruleus 
>>(a region of the brain that interacts with almost all other regions), that 
>>could alter time perception.
>Therefore, I would couple this sort of device with isolation of the individual
>in a highly controllable environment (perhaps within their own mind?) in which
>external timing cues could be manipulated...

Robert M. Caudle                                      "If I had my life to
NAB, NIDR, NIH                                         live over, I'd be a
Bldg. 49, Rm 1A-11                                     plumber."
9000 Rockville Pike                                        A. Einstein
Bethesda, MD 20892

Caudle at yoda.nidr.nih.gov
Caudle at irp.nidr.nih.gov

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