Richard A. Block, Simon Grondin and Dan Zakay
Ronald P. Gruber, Ryan P. Smith and Richard A. Block
Flow and passage of time puzzles were analyzed by first clarifying their roles in the current multidisciplinary understanding of time in consciousness. All terms ( flow, passage, happening, becoming) are carefully defined. Flow and passage are defined differently, the former involving the psychological aspects of time and the latter involving the evolving universe and associated new cerebral events. The concept of the flow of time (FOT) is deconstructed into two levels: (a) a lower level ― a perceptual dynamic flux, or happening, or flow of events (not time); and (b) an upper level ― a cognitive view of past/present/future in which the observer seems to move from one to the other. With increasing evidence that all perception is a discrete continuity provided by illusory perceptual completion, the lower-level FOT is essentially the result of perceptual completion. The brain conflates the expression flow (passage, for some) of time with experiences of perceptual completion. However, this is an illusory percept. Converging evidence on the upper-level FOT reveals it as a false cognition that has the illusory percept of object persistence as its prerequisite. To research this argument, an experiment that temporarily removes the experience of the lower-level FOT might be conducted. The claustrum of the brain (arguably the center of consciousness) should be intermittently stimulated to create a scenario of discrete observations (involving all the senses) with long interstimulus intervals of non-consciousness and thereby no perceptual completion. Without perceptual completion, there should be no subjective experience of the lower-level FOT.