Book Chapter

Aging and the subjective sense of time

Ukraintseva, S. V.
In: Bertoni-Freddari, C., Niedermueller, H. (Eds.): Current concepts in experimental gerontology, 243–249
Wien, Facultas Universitätsverlag (2001)


The paper deals with age-related change in the rate of living and the subjective sense of time in an individual organism. Three items are under discussion: 1. As we age, the rate of basal biological processes in an organism (e.g. the basal metabolic rate, the cell proliferation rate, the rate of nerve conductivity) appears to decrease. As a consequence, our mental and physical alertness decreases with age. In parallel, an individual sense of time changes with age. As we age, the same time period seems to us shorter, than it seemed before. Thus, as we age, “the rate of living” decreases in an organism, but time subjectively “runs faster”. 2. Our hypothesis is that the rate of living and the subjective sense of time are inversely related in an individual organism, and this relation has biological (i.e. not only psychological) background. For instance, the age-related decrease in metabolic rate means that a smaller number of metabolic events passes per unit of time in an organism with age. So, the efficiency of time utilization decreases with age. As a result, a year subjectively pass faster for an elder than for a child. The higher the rate of living in an organism, the slower time flows for a subject and vice versa. 3. We discuss some practical aspects following from this hypothesis. Age-related change of individual sense of time should be taken into account, when effects of anti-aging treatment are estimated. That is, the same actual increase in life span may be accompanied by the different subjective effect of this increase. (AUTHOR)
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.