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We do not so much perceive time itself, but changes in or the passage of time, or what might be described as “events in time”. In particular, we are aware of the temporal relations between events, and we perceive events as being either simultaneous or successive. We also have a perception of the sequence or order of these events.

Our sense of time seems to have originated as a product of human evolution, and it is not a purely automatic or innate process, but a complex activity that we develop and actively learn as we grow. Humans are, as far as we know, the only animals to be consciously aware of the passage of time and our own impermanence and mortality, and to have a consciousness of the past that is anything more than pure instinct and behavioural conditioning.

How We Perceive Time

Although psychologists believe that there is a neurological system governing the perception of time, it appears not to be associated with specific sensory pathways, but rather uses a highly distributed system in the brain (see the section on Biopsychology). Time perception therefore differs from our other senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, even proprioception – since time cannot be directly perceived, and so must be “reconstructed” in some way by the brain.

Neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine (adrenaline) are integrally involved in our perception of time, although the exact mechanism is still not well understood. The human brain appears to possess some kind of “internal clock” (distinct from the biological or circadian clock) which is linked to specific dopamine levels, or possibly even several different clocks working together but independently, each of which may dictate our time perception depending on the particular context 

 

 

Neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine (adrenaline) are integrally involved in our perception of time, although the exact mechanism is still not well understood. The human brain appears to possess some kind of “internal clock” (distinct from the biological or circadian clock) which is linked to specific dopamine levels, or possibly even several different clocks working together but independently, each of which may dictate our time perception depending on the particular conte