Saturday, January 27, 2007

More About Time

Another piece about time , this one in Time Magazine (how appropriate!) entitled Time Travel in the Brain by Daniel Gilbert and Randy Buckner, the authors of Stumbling on Happiness.

This provocative article discusses the findings of research which indicate that the human mind travels through time in any direction and speed it chooses. Brain scans show that when we perform mental tasks, different parts of our brains are active but when these areas of our brains light up other parts of our brains go dark. Referred to as a "dark network" it is active while we are apparently doing nothing. Clearly when we are seemingly doing nothing, we are doing something. But what? The answer is time travel. Aha! shades of Vorfreude! We are truly time travelers, visiting the future or revisiting the past at will. And this is how we learn. "Traveling backward buys us many trials for the price of one, but traveling forward allows us to dispense with trials entirely." We can learn from the mistakes we made when we revisit the past and learn from mistakes without making them when we think about the future.

Neurologists believe that the dark network is the brain's default mode; we spend more time in the past or future than in the present. It's only when demands are placed upon us--the phone rings, someone speaks to us, a dog barks--that we come back to the here and now. We stay just long enough to deal with whatever interrupted us and then we slip off, back to our world of PastFuture again.