Buddhist Abhidhamma sutra describes this phenomenon. Smallest flicker of consciousness is called ceta.
I think 250 ms is closer to vithi (kind of small molecule of mind- moments), than ceta.
> We have seen that the Abhidharma’s analysis of sentient experience reveals that what we perceive as a temporally extended, uninterrupted flow of phenomena is, in fact, a rapidly occurring sequence of causally connected consciousness moments or cittas
> The Sarvāstivādins use the term “moment” (kṣaṇa) in a highly technical sense as the smallest, definite unit of time that cannot be subdivided, the length of which came to be equated with the duration of mental events as the briefest conceivable entities. There is no Sarvāstivādin consensus on the length of a moment, but the texts indicate figures between 0.13 and 13 milliseconds in modern terms
(My personal subjective estimate is something like to 40 ms)
Could you go into a bit more detail? What does CartesianSelfAssertion feel like? How often is it called---on the order of 40ms per OP, or less frequently? Do you notice this only during/after meditation?
I'm not super lucid on it yet. Just recently encountered the experience and still getting a feel for what it is, but I'll try to share what I can.
> What does CartesianSelfAssertion feel like?
A bit disorienting, actually. Though that could just be a function of it's current novelty for me. It has aspects of feeling like waking up, or remembering something crucial, or turning a corner and finally finding your keys.
To philosiphize a bit, I'm tempted to say it's like recurively having a realization, "Oh! This is the real deal... Oh wait, that was just a dream, THIS is the real deal... Wait, no, THIS is it..." which seems quite utterly silly.
And completely independent of all that, I also feel like I'm spinning clockwise, or at least at the center of some spinning thought-sensation storm. And the angle of 30 degrees is in the mix as well for some reason. I have no idea what to make of either of these.
Then there's also a part of me that wonders if all the above is just nonsense, because it just sounds so tripped out. lol
> How often is it called---on the order of 40ms per OP, or less frequently?
Honestly, timing the interval never really occurred to me until reading the OP's comment. In my limited experience, there's definitely some bit of flexibility. In extreme cases I've even been able to halt the process altogether for tens of seconds or so, but modulo doing weird stuff, my gut feeling is to say somewhere on the order of 100ms---40ms definitely doesn't clash with my experience.
> Do you notice this only during/after meditation?
It's been most blatant in some of my more recent meditation sessions. Durning the normal course of the day it's mostly way in the background, though I can also sort of "consciously access" that awareness space to some level. Though the mathematician in me feels like "conscious access of sub-awareness processes" should be a contradiction.
Like being in a silent room eventually relaxes your ear muscles and lack of other stimulation will bring out whatever birdies, tones, noise in your hearing, no movement and concentration can bring out same in your inner ear.
As we age, these artifacts tend to accumulate.
Happens in eyes too, but manifests a bit differently. What happens there is we need more photons to register the same sensory brightness levels. When we are in the dark for a while, the retinal noise floor can be more easily seen, like when star gazing.
Secondly, blood flow, other things can be seen in that noise floor. That happens better in consistent, lower light, but not dark environments, in my experience.
All of these are normally filtered in much the same way we filter our nose out of our visual field, unless we concentrate awareness there.
How do I know?
Well, we know nothing. But, my experiences come from three things:
I have a very good sensory recall. I know what it used to sound, hear, feel like with high fidelity.
My own meditative activities.
Some built in degree of self awareness. When I relax a bit, those filters come down fairly easily for me. Have always been that way and was confused by it more than once growing up.
I've also been trying to think how this can be used to design AGI, the goal being a machine that is able to recursively reason about it reasoning about itself etc... it would be logical if this was in discrete blocks that contained some representation of the previous state so as to avoid just going in circles. Maybe this is part of the reason why we so easily get distracted when observing ourselves observing ourselves - without some noise the mind would just endlessly go meta without any insight.
> A bit disorienting, actually. Though that could just be a function of it's current novelty for me. It has aspects of feeling like waking up, or remembering something crucial, or turning a corner and finally finding your keys.
Ok, that's definitely what I experience too. I have also described it as "disorienting" and "like waking up". I like your name, CartesianSelfAssertion. I might steal that.
The weird bit is that I experience this much less frequently. Like on the order of minutes or hours instead of ms. And typically after but not during meditation. During meditation I'm busy catching my mind wandering off.
> And completely independent of all that, I also feel like I'm spinning clockwise
Ok that bit's a little weird :-).
> but modulo doing weird stuff, my gut feeling is to say somewhere on the order of 100ms---40ms definitely doesn't clash with my experience.
One idea I had for measuring this (because I can't read about something without jumping to how to measure it) is to try to compare the spacing of the moments against the peaks of an auditory sine (or similar) wave:
A change in perspective. Before:
past present future
# - concrete (senses)
@ - abstract (memories; hypotheticals)
past present future
@ ← # → @ past
@ ← # → @ present
@ ← # → @ future
It's a chain of links, but you're only ever one link at a time.
There's a lack of sense of self, probably due to the isolation of the links.
(not being sarcastic)
Different parts of the brain can work semi-independently, while other parts are strictly single-use. And 'resetting' one's mental machinery after this kind of interference takes a measurable amount of time, much like the triggering of garbage collection.
The Stroop Effect is a good demonstration of this kind of cognitive collision.
It was like ... to use a game developer's terms, like my perception was suddenly running at a higher framerate. Of course as a musician this meant the music felt "wrong" somehow after that. "Why is it so slow? Was this song always this easy?" and relatedly, "Why is it harder to move my legs quickly?" etc. This persisted for maybe 20 minutes and then returned to normal gradually. Once I pieced together the criteria, I started to notice that sort of tempo... kind of a "beat" in everything that I do. I feel it especially when I'm visually analyzing a scene, as it's the speed at which I can control my eyes darting about a room. If I'm tired that slows down considerably.
The brain is just... so fascinating.
Sure- a couple beers makes a couple hours feel like a couple minutes.
Normally, it's called slapback when it's used for "rockabilly" (yes, basically sounding like Elvis--specifically his guitarist Scotty Moore).
People emulating Brian Setzer is the more modern thing:
I really challenge the lower end of this. Sound travels about a foot per millisecond. Bands regularly play at 10ft distances.
The problem is that 10ms latency on a digital audio workstation generally isn't if you start measuring with an oscilloscope.
This is fascinating. I'm waiting for the time in my meditation practice when I start to notice it.
Could you (or anyone else who experiences individual moments) go into a bit more detail about what you experience? Do the moments tend to all be from the same sensory modality (e.g. vision), or are they mixed? If you can tell, does any moment combine more than one sensory modality? How often are there moments of thinking (e.g. narration or a visually imagined scenario), or does thinking tend to end the experience? How isolated do the moments feel: are they like isolated snapshots, or is it like a movie running slow where you can tell that there are frames but they partially blend together?
It's been discussed on HN before (it's how I found it a few years ago) and breaks down meditation in a systematic way while relating the phenomena described in Buddhist texts to current psychological principles. This "moments of consciousness model" of the mind is discussed at length and a short answer to you question is yes, different sensory moments are integrated in "binding moments".
I'm partly wondering if peoples' experience matches the book's description, and partly looking for more detail about what the actual experience is like than the book provides.
Would second the recommendation though: it's a great book.
The overlap with "walk in with confidence holding a clipboard" approah to security is obvious; Apollo Robbins has even given a talk at DEFCON about the implications of this approach to attention & security.
I find his demonstrations a very humbling lesson in just how weak our actual perception of reality really is.
I recently figured out that keeping two separate items in one hand, say my bicycle keys and my house keys, makes it easier for me to lose one of them without realizing it since I'm still feeling the other. So there's no sense of loss.
Not substantial but found this in a quick search of any support for this conjecture: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0004953760825526...
In all seriousness, it's interesting to think about the design tradeoffs evolution came up with for humans, and how those tradeoffs may no longer be the right tradeoffs given our radically changed lifestyles. If only we could flick focus mode like a switch when sitting at a computer, that would be nifty.
But you do. When you engage in a task, the dopamine and noradrenaline systems in your brain modulate which parts are active, directing your attention. If these systems don't work well enough, then you get ADHD.
If what you mean is to be able to disable involuntary attention control, then that's not good either. You'd be at great risk of under-responding to emerging situations.
I suspect this changes under conditions of flow, where a human can spend hours engrossed in one task and totally lose track of his surroundings.
It would be interesting to see if experimental results differ between when a person is in flow-state and when they are not.
I imagine problems with this system would manifest more as Sensory Processing Disorder, which has differences noticeable in an EEG.
(see also http://psychedelic-information-theory.com/The-Control-Interr... - not sure how much of it is just pseudoscience nonsense though)
Really makes you rethink the speed of website load time. I know there is a ton of research around site abandonment after x seconds (ms in some cases) but I’ve tended to think drop rates were because the time spent was the upper bound of what that user would spend of “continuous” attention. Reading this article it makes me think that if the site takes 4 seconds to load, the user had about 16 opportunities to go do something else. While the abandonment outcomes are what they are, the cause seems to be very different than what I had always thought.
Since, I've heard / read that setting play back to a faster speed helps - because of the novelty? - but I haven't tried it myself.
Another well established oscillatory model describes binding in visual perception -- which is based on the synchronization of 40hz inhibitory interneurons in different parts of the visual field. Different parts of the same object have a synchronized inhibitory input. Theory is called "binding by inhibition gating" or " communication through coherence"
From the research paper linked to by article.