Time perception, in simple terms, is us experiencing events that happen each moment in relation to time. “How long has it been?” The brain processes every moment according to our neural networks. However, time perception is subjective and hence potentially alterable. Time perception is different for different species. Time itself is constant; our perception of it isn’t.
You have surely felt at times that time itself has slowed down or sped up. For instance, boring lectures and horror-inducing scenarios make us feel that everything is slow. It’s real. What’s more, drugs and alcohol too affect our time perception. That’s also why the concept of time perception is studied under both Psychology and Neuroscience.
The image above is from the 2019 indie video game Katana Zero. It features fast-paced sword-fights and a mesmerizing synth-based art design. Although, we’re here for the fictional drug featured in Katana Zero: Chronos. Named after the Greek God of Time, it gifts the player with two crazy abilities. First, the ability to look into the foreseeable future. Second, the ability to “slow down” time for crafty maneuvers. The “slow down” is shown in the image above. Consider it in some way similar to Quicksilver or Flash. After all, we can’t confirm if they are fast or everything else is slow. Still, the point is perception. Everything feels slow or fast.
A drug like Chronos seems science-fiction. To an extent it is. However, there is some truth to it. Real-life time perception altering chemicals exist even if not as potent as Chronos.
Chronos and Reality
Drugs, alcohol, and chemicals affect the passage of time in our minds. Some make time go “faster” while some make it go “slower”. Alcohol and cocaine belong to the “faster” part of the spectrum and weed belongs to the “slower”. Examples include LSD, Nor-epinephrine, Epinephrine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, Zolpidem, Marijuana, etc. Let’s take a look at some of them.
High consumption of alcohol causes the sensation of time flying by. The two major reasons could be the change in dopamine levels and the activities usually performed under its influence. It is also worth noting that time perception also depends on the amount of info you have to remember in a given moment. Simply said, stressful situations such as falling down or car accidents demand quick decisions. This pushes us to our survival mode. As a result, our brain analyzes everything around us. A greater amount of calculations give out the feeling of time being slowed down (kind of like Disco Elysium). This is where Epinephrine comes in.
Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, “slows” time down. Imagine any close-call situation. Maybe a ball just whisked you. You’ll realize a moment in that instance where time seemed to “stop”. That’s the work of adrenaline. Our survival instinct is strong, it pushes the limits of our physique and senses when time calls for it. You’ll understand faster, you’ll act faster, you’ll react faster.
When you intake more info from a moment, your memory of it also becomes richer. There’s a reason why life for a child is slow but for an adult life just ‘flies by’. As adults, we keep ignoring info we think is unnecessary. Children absorb everything.
A similar “slow” down effect is observed from marijuana. People under its influence feel that more time has passed than it actually has. It affects dopamine levels. Marijuana also affects our system’s circadian rhythm, which is responsible for our ‘sleep-wake’ cycles and hunger. The effects of marijuana have been observed and written about since the 19th century by literary figures and scientists alike.
Present day drugs coupled with control over them through training and we are not too far away from Chronos. Especially considering that there are many soldiers trained from childhood just like the protagonist from Katana Zero. Sure, the foreseeing ability is nowhere near reality but science has some progress in predictive medicines. We still have to completely understand the nature of drugs on our anatomy. However, like we always say, only time will tell.