Why with age does time go by faster?
If you are over 20 years old, it is very likely that it happened many times: you remember an event that you remember vividly and you realize that it happened 10 years ago ... or even more!
It also happens when you intend to see when a television series appeared that you followed from the beginning, or when it was the premiere of a movie that marked you, or even when you realize that the actor or actress who had a child role in An audiovisual fiction can not even be considered too young.
And yet, between 7 and 15 years of age everything seemed to be very slow . In addition, it is even likely that you would want to fulfill one more year and be closer and closer to "the elderly", and that the waiting would be eternal.
As time goes! Stepping on the temporary accelerator
Of course, there is one thing that is clear: time is just as fast for all people, it does not stop for a few and it does not accelerate for others (at least if we stay within this planet). However, the perception of this time does change, and much .
This was confirmed in 2005 by Sandra Lenhoff and Marc Wittmann, two researchers from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. His research consisted of passing a series of surveys to 499 people between 14 and 94 years old, and asking them to rate the degree of "speed" with which they estimated that time passed during a period.
When the lapse was a few days or weeks, all the people similarly thought about the speed with which they had spent that season, but when the time frame was wider (of years) they found that people tended to give more quickly to the passage of time the older their age .
Specifically, people over 40 estimated that they had felt how time passed very slowly during their childhood and how it accelerated slightly during adolescence to reach high speeds in adulthood.
Why does this psychological effect occur?
It is not clear what is the trigger of this phenomenon, but a very reasonable explanation has been proposed that has to do with the amount of temporary references that are available in our memory when we evaluate our life trajectory retrospectively.
This explanation is based on a well-documented fact: more memories accumulate about the first years of life than over a period of similar duration that occurred during adulthood . That is, the amount of memories about what happened between 8 and 12 years of life tends to be much greater than the amount of memories about what happened between 30 and 35 years, for example.
This could be due, on the one hand, to the fact that our brain is more plastic (that is, more sensitive to stimuli) during our childhood and adolescence, which allows us to learn many things quickly and, at the same time, it would make what we are going living is more likely to remain in our memory.
On the other hand, it could also be explained by a very simple fact. A large part of the most relevant life events accumulate at the beginning of our lives : the entrance to the school and the institute, the first time we meet friendships that we will keep for a long time, the moment when we come of age, the first love experiences, etc.
When memory has nothing to grasp
So, on the one hand, we know that the brain is very sensitive to the environment, and on the other we assume that during the first two decades of life a lot of new and exciting things happen. To this we must add an important fact: memory seems to keep well memories related to new and rewarding experiences, and less those that are familiar and do not arouse such a strong emotional reaction.
All this makes us have many more temporary references located at the beginning of our lives that in the second half of this , which can make it look like more time has passed by looking back.
It seems that, if in the last year we do not remember anything particularly remarkable happening, we will go down faster and faster through an ice rink, because in the absence of temporary references stored in our memory we tend to think that this period has been much longer short of what has been. In this way, we can devote more resources to process information about the life stages in which really interesting things happened.
It may be cruel, but in the end our nervous system is not built to give us an objective view of time and space .