Skip to main content

Salience driven novelty seeking, a hypothesis for why time seems to speed as you age.

In 2009 I mused in a Facebook post where a friend quipped if they were the only one who felt time was moving faster as they aged I responded.:

"the more you know, the less there is to find out, the less there is to find out the slower you learn new things, imagine a unit of learning as perceived by you being constant as time goes by life surprises you less and what does happen is spaced out in your experience over longer periods of time, thus a given number of events (significant learning ones that bring new knowledge) is perceived to be spaced out as well and there you go, time contracting with age. 

Just a theory. ;)"

I later wrote a short blog article describing the theory but didn't further explore until now.

Since then, I've gone on to perform personal research in dynamic cognition and have proposed a formal theory of generalized dynamic cognition based on an idea I was realizing at the time I called "salience modulation" , my refined answer to the question below builds on what I described so succinctly in that early post, a possibility that takes into account some computational aspects to how we actually integrate new information into existing structures of learned information.

Assuming that our cognitive model of learning is one that is salience driven as I've posited in my salience theory of dynamic cognition and consciousness ( )  then it makes sense that any learning process that builds knowledge trees will start from the basis of abstractions that get refined to more concrete representations of concepts and experiences in each dimension of sensory experience as evolved over time (basically the exploration tree becomes more dense with time as old concepts are refined in the nuance of variation they contain as sub categories...for example when you were a child "cat" was a generalized representation of all animals that you noticed tended to have small hands, sharp claws, almond eyes, long tails and were some what smaller than "dogs".

At that time this was sufficient resolution for you to identify a cat from a dog or a pig....but as you continued to learn about more types of animals you also noticed sub structure in the concept of Cat. You were told that a Tiger which was much bigger than a dog but shared the earlier attributes of cats was also a cat. So were Lions and Jaguars and Cougars...later still you learned that there are different breeds of cats in the home...the  first one you came across to define the type. There are short hair and long hair breeds, Russian Blue's , Siamese and so fourth....your brain began filling in these what does this have to do with time dilation??

Well the process of breaking down generalized abstractions into lower level categories requires energy, building those sub trees takes up cognitive cycles as the concepts are being consumed and categorized relative to existing concepts. Novelty is the process of discovering that some incoming experience is a new one and making way to encode that into what ever dimensional tree it is found to be associated....I posit there must be some cognitive cost for this and that cost is NOT paid once similar to experienced concepts again enter ...our moments of most attentiveness to what is happening focus around these punctuated inputs of novelty...for novelty seeking is how we explore the experiential landscape efficiently in order to satisfy our salience requirements....without out it long gaps of temporal elapse can pass before we again experience novelty and as such....our temporal experience of the passing of time also lengthens. 

The psychological clock ticks not to a beat of some arbitrary time the counter in a computer system that sets the metronome of computations through registers and across buses but rather to a salience driven novelty clock that only cares to focus when things coming in seem new and that is determined by weather or not some previously stored experiences can be related to them....the more work required to build in the experience the more apparent time exists (as constructing is actively engaging the cognitive process to tie salience to the encoded bit of novel experience) the less work required to build the experience the less apparent elapsed time there exists as novelty is rarely being found. 

Sure outside your head we have persisted in creating arbitrary and regular ways to beat off time but Einstein showed quite clearly that these are all relative measures...and so it goes that our mind by seeking novelty models this relativity of the passage of time to a degree.

A related idea that I've written about just last month is the meaning of "play", we can all probably recall how much of our day was spent just playing when we were children...why have we lost the fire for play as adults? I posit that play is a key tool for enabling growing minds to knit together as many trees of relationships between experiences under salience driven action as possible. This refines our ability to dynamically identify , select and apply subsequent experiences and thus boost our survival odds in a varied environment.

This is a very important lesson as many of us attempting to create dynamic cognition on non biological substrates must be aware that the rate of experiencing novelty between ourselves and our creations should in some way be aligned so that they do not experience our time as a boring hell especially if their cognitive process succeeds in becoming conscious as I assert it can should a salience driven cycle be employed in building the agent. 


Popular posts from this blog

On the idea of "world wide mush" resulting from "open" development models

A recent article posted in the Wall Street Journal posits that the collectivization of various types of goods or services created by the internet is long term a damaging trend for human societies.

I think that the author misses truths that have been in place that show that collectivization is not a process that started with the internet but has been with us since we started inventing things.

It seems that Mr. Lanier is not properly defining the contexts under which different problems can benefit or suffer from collectivization. He speaks in general terms of the loss of the potential for creators to extract profit from their work but misses that this is and was true of human civilization since we first picked up a rock to use as a crude hammer. New things make old things obsolete and people MUST adapt to what is displaced (be it a former human performance of that task or use of an older product) so as to main…

Highly targeted Cpg vaccine immunotherapy for a range of cancer


This will surely go down as a seminal advance in cancer therapy. It reads like magic:

So this new approach looks for the specific proteins that are associated with a given tumors resistance to attack by the body's T cells, it then adjusts those T cells to be hyper sensitive to the specific oncogenic proteins targeted. These cells become essentially The Terminator​ T cells in the specific tumor AND have the multiplied effect of traveling along the immune pathway of spreading that the cancer many have metastasized. This is huge squared because it means you can essentially use targeting one tumor to identify and eliminate distal tumors that you many not even realize exist.

This allows the therapy for treating cancer to, for the first time; end the "wack a mole" problem that has frustrated traditional shot gun methods of treatment involving radiation and chemotherapy ...which by their nature unfortunately damage parts of the body that are not cancer laden but …

First *extra Galactic* planetary scale bodies observed

This headline

So every so often I see a story that has me sitting at the keyboard for a few seconds...actually trying to make sure the story is not some kind of satire site because the headline reads immediately a nonsense.
This headline did just that.
So I proceeded to frantically click through and it appears it was a valid news item from a valid news source and my jaw hit the floor.
Many of you know that we've been finding new planets outside of our solar system for about 25 years now.
In fact the Kepler satellite and other ground observatories have been accelerating their rate of extra-solar planet discoveries in the last few years but those planets are all within our galaxy the Milky Way.
The three major methods used to detect the bulk of planets thus far are wobble detection, radial transit and this method micro lensing which relies on a gravitational effect that was predicted by Einstein in his general theory of relativity exactly 103 years ago.