Learning with ABA English: How time works


Have you ever thought why time goes slowly when we’re afraid, goes faster as we get older, and gets warped when we’re on vacation? Here’s a great video to explain all of this.

This is how today’s lesson works:

1. Read the text
2. Understand the vocabulary
3. Watch the mini-documentary


On some occasions time seems to fly, like when you’re so close to a game’s next level, but other times it slows to a crawl, like that moment before your first kiss. Of course the rate at which objective, physical time passes is always constant for you (unless you’re moving at a fraction on the speed of light), but it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

Think about how long these 5 discs appear for. Where all discs on screen for the same amount of time? Or was one there for longer than the others? Research shows most people think the disc coming toward them stayed for longer, when in reality, all five disks appeared for the same duration. In psychology this is known as the time dilation effect (not to be confused with time dilation in physics!). This is only one example of our distorted perception of time. It also happens when we listen to music.

In 2004, the Royal Automobile Club Foundation for Motoring deemed Wagners ride of the Valkyries as the most dangerous piece of music to listen to while driving. They said the frenzied tempo warps the drivers’sense of speed – causing them to be fast and furious.

The effects of music get more interesting as we look at the music’s intensity – its direction and volume. Studies have found that we perceive looming, crescendoing sounds to last longer than receding sounds – the audio analogue of the growing disk. Imagine if something was coming closer and closer towards you, no wait… like an ill-tempered sea bass. When we first see the sea bass, the sensory experience of it looming towards us means our visual and audio cortices light up. So we can see and hear it – but how do we know it’s a threat? Another brain region that’s also really active is your Superior temporal sulcus, that’s involved in the perception of biological motion. If you saw a photo of a sea bass it’s how you perceive that the bass is swimming and how you know what direction it’s moving in. If you sense the bass is looming towards you, these visual and audio stimuli can alter your perception of time. Your STS is just doing its job telling you to avoid potential threats and collisions, all before your flight or fight response kicks in to help. And if you happen to have a closer encounter with an ill-tempered sea bass, whatever you do, don’t play it the Ride of the Valkyries.

If it felt like time flew during this video, research says you’re actually more likely to rate it as fun.


clockCrawl – a very slow speed.

Rate – the speed at which something happens over a particular period of time.

Screen – the usually flat part of a television or computer monitor that shows the images or text : the part of a television or computer that you look at when you are using it.

Toward – in the direction of (something or someone).

Dilation – to become larger or wider.

Distorted – to change the natural, normal, or original shape, appearance, or sound of (something) in a way that is usually not attractive or pleasing.

Deemed – to think of (someone or something) in a particular way.

Frenzied – very excited or upset.

Tempo – the speed at which a musical piece is played or sung.

Warps – to twist or bend (something) into a different shape.

Looming – to appear in a large, strange, or frightening form often in a sudden way.

Ill-tempered – in a bad mood, angry.

Stimuli – something that causes something else to happen, develop, or become more active.

Alter – to change (something).

Avoid – to stay away from (someone or something).

Potential – capable of becoming real.

Threats – someone or something that could cause trouble, harm, etc.

Collisions – an act of colliding: such as a crash in which two or more things or people hit each other.

Encounter – a meeting that is not planned or expected.

Rate – to be judged as having a particular level of quality, ability, or value.


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