Bayes, time perception, and relativity: The central role of hopelessness

Lachlan Kent, George van Doorn, Jakob Hohwy, Britt Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Time judgement and time experience are distinct elements of time perception. It is known that time experience tends to be slow, or dilated, when depressed, but there is less certainty or clarity concerning how depression affects time judgement. Here, we use a Bayesian Prediction Error Minimisation (PEM) framework called ‘distrusting the present’ as an explanatory and predictive model of both aspects of time perception. An interval production task was designed to probe and modulate the relationship between time perception and depression. Results showed that hopelessness, a symptom of severe depression, was associated with the ordering of interval lengths, reduced overall error, and dilated time experience. We propose that ‘distrusting the future’ is accompanied by ‘trusting the present’ leading to the experiences of time dilation when depressed or hopeless. Evidence was also found to support a relative difference model of how hopelessness dilates, and arousal accelerates, the rate of experienced time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-80
Number of pages11
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Autonomic arousal
  • Bayesian inference
  • Hopelessness
  • Prediction error minimisation
  • Relativity
  • Time experience
  • Time perception

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