This is why time seems to pass more quickly as we age, according to experts

As it should happen the sense that time passes more slowly when we’re kids isn’t just some psychological illusion. It’s a result of physics.

The vague suspicion that time seems to pass more quickly as we age is a universal one. Personally, I have always speculated all the waiting that comes with being a child to be behind the phenomenon.

As a kid, you go from waiting for summer break to waiting for Halloween, to waiting for Christmas, to waiting for the school dance or for picture day to be over or the Papa Roach concert, or your 18th birthday and so on. So much waiting. The only exciting things to wait for after you become an adult are your 21st birthday and death.


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As it should happen the sense that time passes more slowly when we’re kids isn’t just some psychological illusion. It’s a result of physics.

The science behind the perception of time

The notion that time exists beyond the abstract is by no means a breaking development, but literature devoted to how its relative nature relates to aging is still exceedingly fascinating.

A new theory hailing from Duke University published on March 18th in the journal European Review posits that as the body ages the speed at which we receive and process images reduces. Adrian Bejan, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke University involved in the study, said,”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.” Nerves and neurons mature and become more complex, extending paths for signals to travel. These pathways also age and thus degrade, leading to more resistance to the flow of electrical signals. So an older person is taking in much less information than a younger person in the same amount of time, so it seems to go by much quicker.

Bejan noted, “The present is different from the past because the mental viewing has changed, not because somebody’s clock rings. Days seemed to last longer in your youth because the young mind receives more images during one day than the same mind in old age.”


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.