Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sensory Void........

All this talk about the sleep cycle app has reminded me of a talk given by Dr Michael Hastings at The Centre for Life Newcastle about circadian rhythms i.e. our natural sleep cycles. This was part of Newcastle's brilliant science festival which happens every March. Sadly i dont think he covered what alcohol could potentially do to our sleep cycles.

Dr Michael Hastings mentioned an experiment devised and carried out by Michel Siffre where he emersed himself in a sensory void as to find out if our body is programmed to synchronize with the night day cycle or if we use sensory clue such as sunlight. The sensory void he chose to use was a cave, which he spent an incredible 63 days. In an interview with Siffre he mentions how his perception of time was severely altered during his stay in the cave:
The psychologist Elizabeth Loftus conducted an experiment in which she showed people a filmed scene of a bank robbery and asked them to estimate its duration. They overestimated by 500 percent. It seems that our subjective experience of time is highly variable. In the absence of clocks, how did you feel time’s passage?  
There was a very large perturbation in my sense of time. I descended into the cave on July 16 and was planning finish the experiment on September 14. When my surface team notified me that the day had finally arrived, I thought that it was only August 20. I believed I still had another month to spend in the cave. My psychological time had compressed by a factor of two. 

You can read the interview or find out more about Michel Siffre by following one of the links below.

Interview - From those guys at cabinet magazine
Wikki - General information about the guy

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