Josef Holubar

  • The Sense of Time

    An Electrophysiological Study of its Mechanism in Man

    Josef Holubar

    Despite the widespread general interest in the psychological and physiological aspects of the sense of time, there have been relatively few direct experimental explorations of its fundamental mechanisms in the brain. The possibility that rhythms in the electroencephalogram (EEG) of man, in particular the alpha rhythm of some 10 cycles per second, might in some way reflect fundamental timing in some way reflect fundamental timing mechanisms has occurred to a number of workers over the years. Early experimental findings that an increase in body temperature was accompanied both by an underestimation of time intervals and by an increase in the alpha rhythm was a more accurate measure of time intervals than were the subject's own estimates, lent support to such a notion.

    But some writers have gone further, proposing that the alpha rhythm itself is a specific manifestation of a rhythm for the measurement of time. The late Professor Norbert Wiener was a strong proponent of this concept, and it was also, an independently, with this notion that Dr. Holubář began his own work. His particular contribution was to combine the well-known effect of flicker or intermittent photic stimulation on the EEG with temporally conditioned galvanic skin responses (GSR). His remarkable findings, largely published in the Czech language, that the intervals of temporally conditioned GSRs could be specifically altered by flicker in a manner that is determined by the relation between the rates of flicker and the frequency of the alpha rhythm, have, however, largely escaped the attention of other workers. The present translation of Dr. Holubář's monograph on this subject makes his unique and challenging work available to a much wider audience.

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