How emotions change time

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Experimental evidence suggests that emotions can both speed-up and slow-down the internal clock. Speeding up has been observed for to-be-timed emotional stimuli that have the capacity to sustain attention, whereas slowing down has been observed for to-be-timed neutral stimuli that are presented in the context of emotional distractors. These effects have been explained by mechanisms that involve changes in bodily arousal, attention, or sentience. A review of these mechanisms suggests both merits and difficulties in the explanation of the emotion-timing link. Therefore, a hybrid mechanism involving stimulus-specific sentient representations is proposed as a candidate for mediating emotional influences on time. According to this proposal, emotional events enhance sentient representations, which in turn support temporal estimates. Emotional stimuli with a larger share in ones sentience are then perceived as longer than neutral stimuli with a smaller share. © 2011 Schirmer.




Schirmer, A. (2011). How emotions change time. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience.

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