Why do accidents feel like they're in slow motion?



By Aditya Shukla, Psychologist and founder (Cognition Today)


We look at clocks; we learn what an hour is. We look at the sun; we know what a day is. That's just how we calculate time, but our brain "feels" time very differently.


People feel time slows down when they are scared. Like when they are having an accident. Researchers have figured out this is the key to understanding time.

The amount of activity your brain does determines how long you feel a moment lasts.

So perceiving more details literally becomes feeling more time.

Time Perception

Time is slow

Time is fast

A high amount of details to process makes time move slower. So you feel the moment lasts longer. You remember it in detail.

A low amount of details to process makes time move faster. So you feel the moment got over too quickly. You hardly remember it.


This is why time slows down during an accident. Your senses and brain are hyperactive in processing the situation, making you alert and ready to save yourself or someone else.

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist studying time, tells us...

that the more details we are putting into a memory, the longer the duration of that memory feels. And the opposite - fewer details means the time moved past quickly.

This is why we feel our childhoods had so much time and now days are going by. As children, we formed more detailed memories while learning about new things, making us think the moments lasted longer. More brain activity! And as adults, we are often just a string of routines with minimal brain activity, so time flies by.

Thank you for reading

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