Time and the brain


Dr. David Eagleman

Most of the actions our brains perform on a daily basis -- such as perceiving, speaking, and driving a car -- require timing on the scale of tens to hundreds of milliseconds. New discoveries in neuroscience are contributing to an emerging picture of how the brain processes, learns, and perceives time. We will demonstrate new temporal illusions in which durations dilate, perceived order of actions and events are reversed, and time is experienced in slow motion. Questions addressed include: Does your brain work in ‘real time’, or do you experience a delayed version of the world? How and why does the brain dynamically recalibrate its timing judgments? Does subjective time really slow down during a car accident?

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine. He directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action, and is founder and director of BCM’s Initiative on Law, Brains, and Behavior. He has authored 4 neuroscience books coming out in 2008: Ten Unsolved Mysteries of the Brain (Pantheon Press), Dethronement: The Secret Life of the Unconscious Brain (Oxford University Press), The Kaleidoscopic Brain of Synesthesia (co-authored with Richard Cytowic, MIT Press), and The Dynamically Reorganizing Brain (Oxford University Press). He is additionally the author of an upcoming book of fiction, Sum (Pantheon Press). His work has recently been featured on the Discovery Channel, BBC, and PBS, as well as in Discover Magazine. He earned his undergraduate degree in British and American Literature at Rice University and Oxford University, and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute, he became neuroscience faculty at the University of Texas before moving to BCM in 2006