The 'Present Moment' Lasts for 15 Seconds
Study reveals fascinating details of perception
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Apr 13, 2014 2:30 PM CDT
We seem to perceive reality in 15-second moments, a study finds.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – If you're aiming to live in the present, you'll want to restrict yourself to the last 15 seconds—because that's how long we perceive the current moment, a study suggests. A group of US researchers say it's not just a split second: Instead, our minds seem to blur together what's happening right now with what's happened over that brief period, Quartz reports. In other words, "what you are seeing at the present moment is not a fresh snapshot of the world but rather an average of what you've seen in the past 10 to 15 seconds," study author Jason Fischer explains, per the Sydney Morning Herald.

The researchers came to this conclusion using Gabor patches—small arrangements of lines. Twelve participants were shown the patches as they flashed onto a screen; one appeared every five seconds. Subjects then said which direction the lines tilted, but got them slightly wrong, influenced by lines they had seen over the past 15 seconds. "It’s a trade-off the visual system makes," Fischer tells California Magazine of these short, slightly blurred snapshots of reality. Imagine, he says, trying to read a street sign while driving in the rain: "If you were sensitive to every little fluctuation in vision you’d have a very difficult time reading the sign."

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Showing 3 of 20 comments
Apr 23, 2014 12:24 PM CDT
This story is OLD NEWS!
Ezekiel 25:17
Apr 15, 2014 9:17 PM CDT
Dark Helmet: What the hell am I looking at? When does this happen in the movie? Colonel Sandurz: Now. You're looking at now, sir. Everything that happens now, is happening now. Dark Helmet: What happened to then? Colonel Sandurz: We passed then. Dark Helmet: When? Colonel Sandurz: Just now. We're at now now. Dark Helmet: Go back to then. Colonel Sandurz: When? Dark Helmet: Now. Colonel Sandurz: Now? Dark Helmet: Now. Colonel Sandurz: I can't. Dark Helmet: Why? Colonel Sandurz: We missed it. Dark Helmet: When? Colonel Sandurz: Just now. Dark Helmet: When will then be now? Colonel Sandurz: Soon. Dark Helmet: How soon?
Apr 14, 2014 10:59 PM CDT
You always hear people talk about "living in the now". i guess after this, we can equate it with a 15 seconds of fame :-)