The Psychology of Time

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This course is no longer being offered.

Course Description

Have you ever wondered why time seems to fly by when you are reading a good novel, but crawl at a snail-like pace when you are waiting anxiously to de-board a plane? The experience of "time passing" is incredibly different in these two situations, and this difference plays an important role in how we understand other aspects of cognition such as attention and memory. This course introduces the psychology of time, a concept that encompasses the various mechanisms that underlie time perception, distortions in experiential time, and models that guide current investigation. By the end of the course, I hope to deconstruct the concept of time into its constituent perceptual, cognitive and behavioral processes.

To accomplish this, you will be introduced to the methods and history of timing research, beginning with the works of Pavlov and Skinner. In addition, this course considers some of the consequences of a dysfunctional timing system, such as those seen in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. You will learn to identify key features of an empirical model and form your own hypotheses about how we understand time. Class time will consist of both lecture and individual/group work.

(1) Understand the mechanisms that neural pathways that underlie time perception
(2) Become familiar with the empirical methods used in time perception research
(3) Synthesize ideas based on the themes and paradigms of psychology and neuroscience to form a holistic understanding of time


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBN0935
  • Length: 1 week

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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