Breaking News
June 18, 2018 - AHA: Family Perseveres After Losing Father to Heart Attack
June 18, 2018 - Oral propranolol seems safe for infantile hemangioma
June 18, 2018 - New study gives explanation for food’s prominence in memory
June 18, 2018 - First photoactive drug to fight Parkinson’s disease
June 18, 2018 - Patient’s self-evaluation of personality disorders not as far off as previously perceived
June 18, 2018 - Upadacitinib Monotherapy Meets All Primary and Ranked Secondary Endpoints Versus Methotrexate in a Phase 3 Study in Rheumatoid Arthritis
June 18, 2018 - Vitamin B3 has a positive effect on damaged nerve cells in Parkinson’s patients
June 17, 2018 - Sunovion Announces FDA Acceptance of New Drug Application for Apomorphine Sublingual Film (APL-130277)
June 17, 2018 - Bid to beat obesity focuses on fat that keeps us warm
June 17, 2018 - Work Stress May Increase Risk of Developing Atrial Fibrillation
June 17, 2018 - New Zealand’s secret recipe for active school travel: The neighborhood built environment
June 17, 2018 - New Medscape report reveals sexual harassment rate of physicians
June 17, 2018 - Surgical Blood Transfusions Tied to Clot Risk
June 17, 2018 - CDC chief makes $375K, far exceeding his predecessors’ pay
June 17, 2018 - Education linked to higher risk of short-sightedness
June 17, 2018 - Patients with Moderate-to-Severe Ulcerative Colitis Achieved Clinical and Endoscopic Remission with Mirikizumab in Phase 2 Trial
June 17, 2018 - UA registers a more customised multifocal lens to correct presbyopia
June 17, 2018 - U.S. FDA and European Medicines Agency Accept Regulatory Submissions for Review of Talazoparib for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients with an Inherited BRCA Mutation
June 17, 2018 - Vaginal estrogen tablets, moisturizers and placebo gel all can improve vaginal discomfort
June 17, 2018 - Addition of Bezafibrate Beneficial in Primary Biliary Cholangitis
June 17, 2018 - Radiation Therapy for Cancer – National Cancer Institute
June 17, 2018 - Technology could help pregnant women detect health complications
June 17, 2018 - Study finds drop in frequent use of ED after Affordable Care Act
June 17, 2018 - Do Antipsychotic Meds for Kids Raise Diabetes Risk?
June 17, 2018 - New light shed on mechanisms of paediatric epilepsy
June 17, 2018 - People who deeply grasp the pain or happiness of others also process music differently in the brain
June 16, 2018 - Scientists discover how cancer-targeting ‘Natural Killer’ cells are fueled in the body
June 16, 2018 - New England Journal of Medicine Publishes Pivotal Cemiplimab Trials Showing Positive Results in Advanced Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma
June 16, 2018 - Annual Report to the Nation: overall cancer mortality continues to decline, prostate cancer mortality has stabilized
June 16, 2018 - Ibuprofen, acetaminophen more effective than opioids in treating dental pain
June 16, 2018 - Intra-Cellular Therapies Initiates Rolling Submission of New Drug Application for Lumateperone for Treatment of Schizophrenia
June 16, 2018 - Price competition for generic drugs linked to increase in manufacturing-related recalls
June 16, 2018 - Researchers develop biomimetic nanosystem to deliver therapeutic proteins to target tumors
June 16, 2018 - Negative Pressure Wound Tx No Benefit for Lower Limb Open Fx
June 16, 2018 - Should I Get Screened for Prostate Cancer?
June 16, 2018 - Biochemist, physicist team to see antibacterial TCS deform mitochondria
June 16, 2018 - New 2D Superresolution mode for ZEISS Airyscan offers higher resolution in live cell imaging
June 16, 2018 - Money Spurs Those With Heart Disease to Step Lively
June 16, 2018 - Lower Dose of Prostate Cancer Drug with Food
June 16, 2018 - New findings demonstrate how the food we eat affects biochemical signals in the gut
June 16, 2018 - Scientists develop method to determine metabolic activity of neural networks
June 16, 2018 - Topical gel may lower breast cancer risk in women with dense breast tissue
June 16, 2018 - Research team diagnoses asthma with nasal brush test
June 16, 2018 - Dacomitinib Shows More than Seven-Month Improvement in Overall Survival Compared to an Established Therapy in Advanced NSCLC with EGFR-Activating Mutations
June 16, 2018 - Novel PET imaging noninvasively pinpoints colitis inflammation
June 16, 2018 - New clinical trial of MS drug will be first to recognize needs of wheelchair users
June 16, 2018 - Evoke Announces FDA Submission of New Drug Application for Gimoti
June 16, 2018 - New study links gray hair with immune system activity and viral infection
June 16, 2018 - Various E-cigarette flavorings may increase risk of cardiovascular disease
June 16, 2018 - Research sheds light on pathways involved in transmitting itch sensations from skin to brain
June 16, 2018 - Eminent biologist resigns over allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment
June 16, 2018 - Consuming sugary soft drinks can make you fat
June 16, 2018 - CDC: Preterm Births Increased in United States During 2014-2016
June 16, 2018 - Adolescents with hay fever have higher rates of anxiety and depression, lower resistance to stress
June 16, 2018 - Metabolic process providing energy to heart muscle fails to mature in babies with hypertrophy
June 16, 2018 - TU Graz researchers manipulate enzymes to build ring-shaped molecular structures
June 16, 2018 - Looking Good! Plastic Surgery for Men Surges
June 16, 2018 - Discovery of how HIV hedges its bets opens the door to new therapies
June 15, 2018 - Researchers evaluate left ventricular systolic function after pulmonary valve replacement
June 15, 2018 - New resource launched based on first-hand experiences of premature baby loss
June 15, 2018 - About Teen Pregnancy | Teen Pregnancy | Reproductive Health
June 15, 2018 - In southern Mozambique, one out of three people diagnosed with HIV do not disclose their status
June 15, 2018 - Researchers discover genomic characteristics that define testicular germ cell cancer
June 15, 2018 - Engineers create first 3D computer model to show breast duct development
June 15, 2018 - ANU scientists invent new system that could help crack down on illegal drug trade
June 15, 2018 - Study shows remarkable plasticity of the brain in finding work-arounds after catastrophic injuries
June 15, 2018 - Study finds higher response to anti-PD1 immunotherapy in older melanoma patients
June 15, 2018 - New Data from Phase 1 Study of Ivosidenib or Enasidenib in Combination with Azacitidine Demonstrate Robust Responses and a Well Tolerated Safety Profile in Newly Diagnosed IDHm AML Patients
June 15, 2018 - Smoking, lack of exercise linked to early death after divorce
June 15, 2018 - Researchers identify gene enhancer that affects sex determination
June 15, 2018 - New collaboration integrates Intabio’s Blaze solution with Bruker’s mass spectrometers
June 15, 2018 - Blood samples can be used to uncover genetic secrets inside the brain
June 15, 2018 - Palatin Technologies Announces FDA Acceptance for Review of Bremelanotide NDA
June 15, 2018 - Can you rely on the drugs that your doctor prescribes?
June 15, 2018 - WHO: Paraguay achieves malaria-free status
June 15, 2018 - Investigating Enamel Nanostructure with Nanoindentation
June 15, 2018 - FDA Approves Moxidectin for the Treatment of River Blindness
June 15, 2018 - Researchers discover cell structure that plays a role in epigenetic inheritance
June 15, 2018 - Study shows how using service dogs may provide physiological benefits to veterans with PTSD
June 15, 2018 - New chemical solution could reduce chances of infection associated with root canal work
Movies and music play with our minds by bending time

Movies and music play with our minds by bending time

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Time lapse, slow motion and even music can alter our perception of how quickly time passes. Credit: Unsplash/ Josh Calabrese

Movie directors regularly manipulate the passage of time in films to entertain their audiences, but researchers are trying to unravel the effect this can have on our brains.

Little is known about how the human brain processes time or how slow motion, time lapse and even music can alter our perception of how quickly it passes, changing our emotions and cognitive abilities.

Professor Clemens Wöllner, a cognitive musicology researcher at the University of Hamburg in Germany, describes an iconic scene in the 1990s blockbuster film Forrest Gump as an example.

As the kind-hearted but hapless hero, then a child, is being chased by bullies on bikes, he runs jerkily before picking up speed and the leg braces that constrain him pop off.

“It’s a very emotional scene—and of course it’s in slow motion,” said Prof. Wöllner, who is the principal investigator on an EU-funded project called SloMo.

By using slow motion, usually in combination with emotionally charged music, movie directors intuitively tap into how our perception of time affects our cognition, according to Prof. Wöllner.

The way the mind perceives time is something that researchers are only beginning to study at a fundamental level, though one day the findings from such work could feed into other research on human diseases and wellbeing.

The SloMo project is aiming to explore the theory that emotional processing by the mind is linked to the perception of time.

“The theory is that during highly emotional moments we are highly susceptible to information and take in more information,” said Prof. Wöllner. “Our brain is more alert and so we have the feeling that time passes more slowly.”

The team is examining the use of slow motion in music, dance, performing arts and audiovisual media like film or sports footage.

The project, which started in April and is funded for five years through the EU’s European Research Council (ERC), comprises six main studies and an initial total of 15 experiments.

Initial findings

The researchers have already presented initial findings at the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music Conference, which was held at Ghent University, Belgium, during the summer. The team showed healthy volunteers slow-motion scenes taken from movies, dance and sports footage, recording their emotional, physiological and eye-movement responses. They then recorded the same parameters in the viewers while speeding up the footage to a real-life pace.

The iconic Forrest Gump scene was one of the pieces shown. Prof. Wöllner said two key emotional dimensions, which psychologists call arousal and valence, were markedly different when people watched the original slow-motion version compared with the normal-speed version.

Arousal refers to the emotional state connected to alertness and internal activity, including physiological parameters like heart rate, while valence refers to the value of an emotion, often either as positive for feelings like happiness, or negative for feelings like anger or fear.

When subjects were shown the Forrest Gump scene in real time, their arousal state was higher, while valence was higher in the slow-motion version when music was played. The team also found that people’s eye movements differed.

“In slow motion, the gaze behaviour of the eye was more dispersed,” said Prof. Wöllner. “They looked at other things (in the scene).” He added that in real time, viewers tended to focus more, although not exclusively, on the main character.

In other words, slow motion enabled viewers to perceive details they otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.

But other experiments within the project are also probing how music can be used to influence our perception of motion and time. Music compositions are often multi-layered with different levels of structure in both the melody and rhythm, to which listeners can synchronise.

In one experiment, the researchers are manipulating musical excerpts with different structural levels and will examine the volunteers’ judgements of duration, along with physical responses like the speed the participants tapped their fingers to the perceived pulse of the music.

From a learning point of view, slow speed is important in music practice and dance rehearsal, so the project may have implications for education. The theory is that, in slowing down, the brain’s cognitive load—or mental capacity—is reduced, making it easier to concentrate on new notes or information.

Prof. Wöllner said the project will also examine ‘time dilation’—a phenomenon that music can also be used to alter. The idea is that repetition makes time appear to speed up, which is why time seems to go faster as we age, or why the first time we travel to a new place the journey seems long but the return leg seems faster.

Repetition is central to most musical genres and affects listeners’ expectations. Prof. Wöllner says it is possible to alter some of the musical features and study how this affects people’s perceptions of duration and behavioural responses to music.

He believes this ability to use music to change people’s perception of time could also bring benefits to their wellbeing, although he stresses that SloMo is focusing on fundamental, basic research.

“One field certainly is how music may help in diseases with a very strong temporal component, for instance Parkinson’s,” he said.

Mapping time

But it may be important to answer some of the basic questions about how the brain is able to encode time before looking at how this can be applied to helping treat diseases.

The EU-funded Brain in Time (BiT) project, is looking at how our brains map duration. A lot of research in recent years has focused on where in the brain time is encoded, says Professor Domenica Bueti, principal investigator on the project and head of the time perception lab at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, Italy.

“What I proposed is, to go from “where” to “how” and “when,”” she said. “How do brain regions encode time? What are the connections between these regions? How do they talk?”

Her project aims to test the hypothesis that there is a topography or map of time within the brain, something she refers to as a ‘chronotopy.” It will look at how the brain encodes time in the short term, at split-second level.

Prof. Bueti believes they will find that specific groups of brain cells respond selectively with different millisecond time durations.

She and her colleagues will use neuroimaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, to study the brains of healthy volunteers as they perform different tasks.

The team will also use a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation to create virtual lesions within the brain while subjects are performing tasks. This can temporarily interfere with signals in the brain, allowing the researchers to study what different parts involved in time cognition do.

The project started in October 2016 with a five-year grant from the ERC.

Prof. Bueti hopes that chronomaps could provide a neurological signature of whether the brain’s time cognition system is working properly or not. This could be used to help people with conditions that have time perception problems.

People with damage to specific brain regions like the basal ganglia or cerebellum, or those with certain degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s can experience difficulties in judging time on the short scale. Understanding how the brain deals with time cognition could help develop new diagnostic tools for temporal deficiencies like these.

“Time is so abstract,” said Prof. Bueti. “Yet, it’s a fundamental dimension of everything.”


Explore further:
Blame it on the bossa nova: How music changes our perception of touch

Provided by:
Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles