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Phenomenal Time and its Biological Correlates

Ram L. P. Vimal, Christopher J. Davia


Our goal is to investigate the biological correlates of the first-person experience of time or phenomenal time. ‘Time’ differs in various domains, such as (i) physical time (e.g., clock time), (ii) biological time, such as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, and (iii) the perceptual rate of time. One psychophysical-measure of the perceptual rate is the critical flicker frequency (CFF), in which a flashing light is perceived as unchanging. Focusing on the inability to detect change, as in CFF, may give us insight into phenomenal time. CFF varies from 24 Hz for dim light and 60 Hz in bright light and is lower for colored lights. We propose that problem of the phenomenal time can be addressed using two contrasting but complementary approaches (inability to detect changes vs. ability to detect changes): (1) The soliton-catalytic model that entails invariant quantum coherent state for temporal frequencies (TFs) >= CFF, where flickering light is perceived as unchanging, similar to a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). (2) Temporal frequency tuned mechanisms model, which starts with ability to detect changes for TFs < CFF and then their sensitivities decreases to zero at CFF. For a subject who has CFF of 60 Hz, the duration of one cycle or time-period of the flickering light is approximately 16.7 ms. Phenomenal time may be quantized into ‘subjective occasions of experience’ (SE), which arise out of the interaction of the individual with situation (environment). Pioneering work examining the complex interaction of neurons suggests the possibility that macroscopic quantum states similar to a BEC may also occur in the brain (Davia, 2006; Freeman & Vitiello, 2006; Georgiev, 2004; Vimal & Davia, 2008).

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ISSN: 2153-8212