Jul 31 2009

With the right glasses, maybe you could think faster

Category: humorharmonicminer @ 9:06 am

It would seem that your perception of time may be affected by the wearing of glasses that shift your visual perceptions left or right. So says a new study.

Next time you’re stuck in a never-ending meeting, speed up time – or at least your perception of it – by wearing a pair of glasses that shift your vision to the right.

Prismatic glasses that adjust vision 10 degrees to the left experience just the opposite effect, slowing perception of time, claims a new study recently published online in Psychological Science (DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02390.x).

In the study, volunteers first wore prismatic lenses while they pointed to a pen in their periphery over and over again. This prompted their brains to adjust accordingly, shifting their world view to the right or left – the opposite direction of the lens shift.

Afterward, the volunteers performed a simple task in which they watched a blue square flash onto a computer screen. Participants were told to press the space bar, which made a red square appear, and to keep the red square on the screen for the same amount of time as the blue square had appeared, anywhere between 1.6 and 2.4 seconds.

People whose vision was shifted to the right overestimated short intervals by 113 milliseconds on average, while those whose world moved left tended to underestimate time by 131 milliseconds on average. They showed the same biases in a task in which the researchers told them to estimate half the duration of the blue square.

Led by Francesca Frassinetti at the University of Bologna, Italy, the study adds to growing evidence that our brains represent time and space similarly. Patients with brain damage that causes them to ignore part of their visual field have trouble estimating time. The study also adds support to the idea that we think of increasing durations of time as moving right to left.

Maybe that’s why we always find ourselves wanting more when conservative speakers are done, but we can’t wait for the end when liberals are just warming up.  I always did have the impression that lefties couldn’t quite keep up with the rest of us, intellectually.  Maybe we should just change their glasses.   While we’re at it, let’s remove the automatic rose-colored tint that appears whenever they’re reading about possible new government programs.

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