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3.9 out of 5 stars
Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
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on 27 February 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )

I trust time
To be, to pass and to fly
The never-ending always
Of comforting change
Moments collecting

Orderly and prescribed
A certain knowing unveiled
Like night into day
Or wind into waves

I trust time
For I must, you see
Believe, believe in me
Through ages to be

Round and round
And back and forth
Orbiting expectations
Defying space
Thereness forever
Centres: Time

Evolving like additions
Calculations ad-infinitum
The infant Reason stares
At numerical comprehension

Inevitable circularity
Relatively returning space
Like the marks on a clock

Recollections stumble in
Memories defined by time
The semblance of order

Like verses, like stanzas
Marching past
Controlled and controlling

Post-ancient maxims
Pre-modern ideals
Watch my rhyme
In-perfect time.

Written many years ago Claudia Hammond's book made me look at my poem on a wall. Part of a photograph of my younger self taking a picture of me before a mirror. Sepia tones and slightly out of focus, the 'effect' is complete by the fact that the frame hides a hole in the wall. Pick the bones out of that time warped conundrum!

I did not think the author could go three hundred pages on the perception of time but as you begin reading you understand the depth of her understanding. People centred. As someone with brain damage I never seek out books on the subject but do enjoy accidental insight into my condition. Part of which is my relationship with time. Having experienced two motorcycle crashes, one I never had any memory of and the other I was acutely conscious of every moment, I am finding the book enlightening as well as interesting.

I am always occupied. How people can sit around watching tv all day is beyond me. Whilst I don't wear a watch, I am often checking clocks. Interesting to read of body temperature affecting time perception. In fact the details in her book are many but are invariably connected to real people. This is a psychology text book which is just a little bit cuddly. Or did I write that recalling the author's colour photo on the back flap of the book?

The last occasion when I considered my relationship with time produced the poem above. Many humans live alone these days. That is different from being alone. Without time.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 August 2015
Time Warped: Unlocking the mysteries of time perception, by Claudia Hammond, Canongate, Edinburgh, 2012, 344 pp.

This is an entertaining book about how we perceive time in various situations depending on our age, current activity, state of mind, social popularity, the presence of medical conditions like ADHD or depression, and many other factors – some, quite extreme, like being alone in an ice-cave for two months or being taken captive by Islamic extremists. The author is a psychologist and broadcaster who has already written a best-selling book, Emotional Rollercoaster.

The first chapter serves as a general introduction to the subject. Chapter 2 looks at how different parts of the brain contribute to different aspects of our conception of time – for long or short periods, or under various types of stress or distraction.

The next chapter deals with those people who see the passage of time laid out in space – as many as 20% of the population according to the author. It’s interesting that Einstein saw the world laid out in a four-dimensional space-time continuum. Most English-speakers use spatial adjectives to describe time intervals as short or long but Hammond suggests that in other languages they use descriptions of amount, like much or little, to describe time. She suggests that associating time with space might be a specific kind of synaesthesia – a condition in which the individual blends various kinds of sensory experience in the mind. Most often this is met with when people assign colours to particular sounds in music, but spiritual healers often associate the chakras (vortical concentrations of spiritual energy in the body) with colours. The connections or synapses between neurones are not firmly established in new-born babies and the theory is that when these develop at around four months, some of the pathways for colour or sound get crossed over and synaesthesia results. If people are asked to draw circles to represent past, present and future, English-speaking people put them in this order, in a line, from left to right.

Chapter 4 focuses on ‘Why Time Speeds Up As You Get Older’. The chapter opens with a list of 20 momentous world events that we are challenged to date – I must confess that I didn’t do very well! The chapter then explores many incidents that support the author’s heading.

As someone who believes in the validity of psychic events, the title of the penultimate chapter – ‘Remembering the Future’ – intrigued me. But this has nothing to do with clairvoyance. It is about ‘future thinking’ – mental time-travel into the future which matters, as the author tells us, because creating images of the future is essential for planning in our lives but problems in this area are often linked with amnesia or the ability to remember the past. She points up the difference between semantic memory (of factual knowledge) and episodic memory (of personal events). A similar differentiation exists with future thinking. There is more detail here on how different parts of the brain function. There are also a few more ‘reader-participation’ tests.

The sixth and final chapter is what might be called the self-help bit of the book: ‘Changing Your Relationship With Time’, with recommendations that are all evidence-based. There are suggestions for making your personal time seem to speed up or to slow down, depending on your immediate personal situation.

This book is full of short and accessible psychology experiments that illustrate the points Hammond makes in the text and which I found fascinating. There are 15 pages of references and a good Index.

Howard Jones is the author of Evolution of Consciousness
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on 29 September 2012
Time Perception could be something quite dull. The very talk of things dragging, the thought of clocks, mention of ageing and associated concepts could well put people off the topic. Whatever preconceptions somebody may have, Hammond wipes the cobwebs off the old grandfather clock that may appear in your head at first, replacing it with involving activity and experiments, fluent prose, engaging facts and phenomena and explanations thereof.

A sense of humour, wit and aliveness in her style and expertise, passionate attention to detail and dedication to scientific validity and references make this book dynamically accessible to the lay person, who simply wondered why 10 days on holiday flies by in what seems like a weekend, yet concurrently seems to account for your whole summer's worth of time to look back on - and also incredibly useful to the psychologist, who will find a comprehensive text, rich in cutting edge research, referenced as well as a journal published article, with solid, up to date studies reinforcing each claim as it comes.

Hammond herself is clearly experienced from her radio career in engaging the public, and speaking articulately on her subjects, and this is not lost whatsoever in her written work. This book follows her earlier release, 'Emotional Rollercoaster' - which was born out of her incredibly successful and involving BBC Radio 4 series. She is an author to be very much respected as the academic she is, and her understanding of the psychology of time perception, particularly the very scientific areas of cognitive and biological psychology which are prominent, is unquestionably advanced. Yet she gives no sense of knowing it all, of lecturing the naive reader with her wonderful intellect, but instead allows you to go along with her, through the chapters, as she passionately explores and discusses a topic clearly of great interest to herself, while her own enjoyment and excitement along the way cannot help but filter through, in full, to the lucky reader.

'Time Warped' was recommended to me by the person in charge of the British Psychological Society's Facebook wall comments some day in early 2012. I was unable to attend what struck me as a brilliantly interesting lecture by somebody I was totally unfamiliar with me, a certain Claudia Hammond, about Time Perception. It was in London, I was in the North-East. I snapped up the book as it was released, shortly after being told of it, and had never before been so pleased with a recommendation, nor indeed had I ever enjoyed reading a book as much as Time Warped.

This is my first Amazon review, and the one I felt was most important, as I have so much gratitude and respect for Claudia Hammond and those involved with this book, for not only the text itself, but for getting me back into reading, and encouraging further interest for me, in a wonderful area of psychological research.

Not to mention it has a wonderful cover. Despite the embossed, stylish, monochromatic cogs with the book's credentials winding round them being perhaps one of the coolest covers of all the books on my shelves, the content, in fact, exceeds any positive judgement to make about the cover. Buy this book, read this book, and you'll be armed with the tools to understand why reading it seemed to pass in no time!
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on 9 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I know I'm starting off with the irrelevant stuff, but the raised black on white cogwheel design that adorns the front cover, spine and back of this book is quite a work of art in itself and has a great tactile quality to it that makes me spare a sad yet appreciative thought for the humble book jacket designer who now has to design more Kindle covers than traditional ones. But I've surely wasted your time enough in small talk before getting to the actual review of this book. Or have I? It depends of course in how you perceive your own personal quota of time - do you see it as a resource and feel annoyed when others do something you see as squandering it, or are you happy to be swept along in whatever moments of diversion random chance offers you?

Everyone has a lifetime's supply of time, but different people view it in different ways at different times of their life. Someone waiting to see the dentist may look at their watch after what they think is five minutes only to find only two minutes have passed, whilst someone reading the paper on a coffee break may realise with a shock that a ten minute break has somehow turned into twenty. In Time Warped, Claudia Hammond sets out to explain why it is that our perception of time varies so much in different situations and at different times of life. She looks at many situations, from the dual perceptions we have of holidays that pass quickly yet looking back seemed to last forever (funny, I'd actually put that the other way round), to more extreme cases such as Alan Johnston, held hostage in Gaza, or Chuck Berry whose glider started coming apart bringing him seconds away from death, yet to him the few seconds it took him to save himself seemed almost endless.

This book, by the author's own admission - and despite the back cover's boastful promise of showing us how to "speed time up and slow it down at will" - is not a self-help book, it is a popular science book that throws in a good deal of speculative reasoning to accompany some very real neuroscience and psychology. It's interesting stuff, yet Claudia is a master of managing to say the same thing in very slightly different ways several times in a chapter, making it seem overly padded. The chapter at the end where she tries to, almost apologetically mix self-help with a conclusion didn't work for me, and though I'd enjoyed the other chapters I found reading this last one tedious.

The best chapter in the book is the one on how some people visualise time. I discovered I have "time/space synaesthesia", which is boffin speak for saying that my mind persistently associates time with spatial concepts - for example, I see months as if they go round a circle, weeks too, and I see centuries as if they were written pages placed one after the other in a line, with decades as if they were lines so that 1989 jumps to the next `line' when it becomes 1990. The book also mentions the mental millennium bug that some people have (I, for those who are interested in these things, simultaneously see 2000 as continuing on the same `line' as 1999, and also jumping back to the first `line' on the next page). Unfortunately, she has no answer to why I see months as going anticlockwise round their circle, whilst weeks go clockwise round theirs. There are some examples of how people see time given in this book and whilst I identify with some of them, others just seem bizarre and incomprehensible to me. I've discussed time perception with a few people over the years and only a couple or so seemed to know what I was talking about. It's good to have this book to show to those people who don't see time spatially at all and think those of us who do are having some sort of joke at their expense.
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on 4 July 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Have you ever had those times when hours seem to last minutes and minutes seem to last for hours? Have you ever looked back and wondered where the year has gone? If your answer is "yes" then you are not alone, most of us have.

This book looks at a lot of the current research which is going on into time perception. Since most of the way we perceive is down to psychology in one form or another I thought this would be an interesting book. It is interesting ... to a point, but it is also, unfortunately, dull and dry in the majority of places.

I know that psychology can easily slip into the realms of dull and dry, but little seems to have been done within this tome to excite the reader, or to make them want to read on.

The author quotes significant portions from other people's work to support the ideas, and I always wonder about someone who writes a book which seems to be so dependant on the work of other people.

There is a noticeable amount of repetition in the book that I could really have done without, and that would have reduced the book by around a quarter.

The way we perceive time can be influenced by a multitude of things including:

- how tired/awake you are,
- your workload,
- how stressed we are
- emotional state
- special/notable events occurring at the same time
- and so on

The more things we have on our minds and the more tasks we have to do during our days, the more "time flies".

One of the tasks the author asks of the reader is to try to name the month and year of a list of events. I could name one - but not for the reasons given in the book. On Friday the 29th of August, 1997 my mother fell of a ladder and smashed her foot, broke her arm, shoulder and several ribs. Two days later (Sunday 31st August 1997) a friend of the family phoned up at 6 am and told us to turn on the news and it was saying that Princess Diana was injured (it later turned out that she was dead).

In fact there are a number of things I can remember about that week, my mother's 2 operations, one on the Saturday and again on the Monday (Princess Diana's death fell between the two). There was also Mother Teresa's death announced at the end of the news on Friday the 5th of September as an "in other news" summary.

The only reason I remember these things is due to my mother's accident and hospital stay. Other than that I have a dreadful memory for birthdays, anniversaries, etc, it is a bane in my life.

All that being said this book vould possibly make an interesting, if dry, starting point/resource for anyone looking at time perception.
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on 6 June 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The problem with most full length books that extensively quote behavioural studies, scientists or economists about a niche subject is that they are often grindingly dry in their dogged pursuit of a subject that has been exhausted well before the end. For the average layman there might be much more than a long magazine article about the subject to be read, but there isn't enough for a whole book. Not unless the writer is a prose stylist of considerable merit.

Mono-subject books like The God Delusion,God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,The Undercover Economist,Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything etc suffer from having long dry parts that come to dominate over the wet patches of interest. These types of books could usually do with some repetition being edited out to reduce them to about two thirds of their current lengths. I bet most people skip a few pages here and there when reading about interesting but not fascinating subjects over so many hours.

This book is quite good. It's just too long and dry. My attention began to leave by about the halfway point. I got to the end with only a few skipped pages during the last quarter. I was glad to get it over with. I wouldn't say I struggled to read it, more that my attention was rarely held with much conviction. And I say this as someone who finds time to be a very interesting subject.

It was about equal parts good, so-so and boring. The various field tests and experiments that have been conducted over the years were usually the good parts. Unfortunately her writing style was rather flat and unengaging which made them less fun to read about than they should have been. She writes in an unflashy BBC style impartial tone that tends to mute any potential excitement.

Did I learn anything? Yes, but I can't escape the feeling that it was mostly stuff I already knew in some way or other. The majority of the information feels fairly self-evident, even if you don't have any case histories to back any of it up. And I'm not sure what difference it makes to my understanding of time that studies have concluded such and such. Is it significant that an isolated researcher in a cave felt an hour drag on forever, but when timed it turned out his perceived hour was actually only forty minutes? It's kind of interesting, but does it mean anything beyond a bit of trivia I can file away?

The last chapter contains eight bits of advice about time management. The suggestions are again mostly self-evident and don't come up with anything particularly radical (although setting a specific time aside to go over your worries is a new idea to me). If you expect the book to have self-help uses then I think you will be mostly disappointed.

The book isn't bad, and it's very readable. Just don't expect to be thrilled with fascinating discoveries and new ways at looking at things.
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on 2 June 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In "Time Warped" psychologist and broadcaster Claudia Hammond describes how 'our minds actively construct our subjective experience of time through a combination of processes involving memory, attention and emotion'; it is this mental construction and its divergence from objective time as measured by a clock that causes time to warp, creating strange illusions. In six chapters Hammond covers: ways in which our minds warp time; what parts of the brain are responsible for measuring time; how we construct images of time in space; how we perceive past time; how we perceive the future and memory's role in this; and finally, ways in which we can change our perception and experience of time for the better (topics also covered in Oliver Burkeman's book Help!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done). Along the way we meet a man who spent two months in a cave, deprived of all methods of telling time, another plummeting to almost certain death in a glider for whom five seconds felt like a lifetime, and people with various neurological problems which affect their relationship with time (here, as time and memory are so linked, we meet some of the characters from Joshua Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything).

This is a readable and fast-moving book filled with anecdotes and diversions. Sometimes I felt that Hammond summarized a piece of data too quickly before moving on - leaving me with questions and doubts. At one point, for example, Hammond writes 'we already know that negative memories lose their power over time', however I did not feel that she had spent enough time convincing us of this fact in the earlier discussion. Elsewhere, in Chapter 3, Hammond describes an experiment which involved subjects linking words describing the past with a specific direction. The fact that they associated past words with the left hand side showed that they visualized time as flowing from left to right. The researchers then presented mirror images of the words and the subjects started to associate the past with the right hand side. Hammond baldly states that 'the direction of the flow of time reversed in their minds'; however, this doesn't account for the possibility that the subjects, on seeing a mirror image of the words, visualized themselves standing behind rather than in front of them. The future would then be to the left, not because they visualized time moving in a different direction but because they imagined themselves standing in a different place relative to its flow.

Despite these occasional doubts, overall I enjoyed "Time Warped". Hammond's style is friendly and enlivened by her own personal experiences which are presented in a non-intrusive way. The book itself is a nice paperback with French flaps and pleasing graphics. Time is something we all experience and this is a book that will make me think more about the way I frame the past, present, and future, as well as hopefully making me feel more comfortable within its flow.
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on 7 May 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If there is one impression you'll take away from this book, it may well be the remarkable tenacity of those prepared to carry out scientific research in the field of time perception. You'll read about the young French man who chose to maroon himself in total darkness in an ice cave for two months, of volunteers prepared to step blindfold to the very edge of a deadly drop down a stairwell (to find out if extreme anxiety makes time apparently pass more slowly), and the dedication of Marigold Linton, who made copious notes on her daily life for five years and tested herself every month on how accurately she recalled them (not a trivial as it might sound - by the end of the experiment she was having to choose from over two hundred possible memories, and the process of testing took an entire day).

The way that our brains percieve the passage of time is something we're all familiar with. Who hasn't wondered where the years have gone when children we remember being toddlers turn out to be doing their A levels? Or wondered why time drags in a queue, but races by when we're having fun? Cleverly, Claudia Hammond has chosen a topic thet just about everyone can relate to, but many people take completely for granted until they think about it. Hammond will tell you gripping stories of people who have either chosen, or been forced to, do precisely that. One of the most dramatic ones is that of the BBC correspondent Alan Johnston who was held hostage in Gaza, confined to one room with no idea how long he'd be held in captivity and, quite literally, nothing to do. Accounts like this bring what could have been a dry and academic subject to life.

Hammond is an excellent communicator, as those familiar with her work on BBC Radio 4 will know. In fact, you might well find yourself hearing her chirpy voice in your mind as the pages race by. If I had one criticism of this book, it would be that it reads so easily that you may not give sufficient attention to the complex concepts being described. I was particularly intrigued by the chapter where she talks about how people, quite literally, picture time. Do you see it running away from you, or yourself running towards it? Why do some people imagine the months going anti-clockwise around a wheel, and does anybody have the right to tell them that's the wrong way round? Does your concept of "before" and "after" vary according to whether you write your language right to left? And, finally, can you really be sure you remember the year Princess Diana died, and did you realise that if you remember the moment you heard the news, that might well be because is happened on a Saturday night? (That means you heard on Sunday morning, a day different enough from the usual routine for the majority of people to make it more memorable than a Wednesday or Thursday).

This is the ideal read for a long train journey - informative, stimulating and yet accessible. It's also nicely produced, if a little overpriced (RRP, that is). A worthy addition to Canongate's growing non-fiction list.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Claudia Hammond's Time Warped is an interesting and compelling discussion of the concept of time in psychology. Hammond will be known to Radio 4 listeners as the presenter of All in the Mind, and her journalistic skills are evident in the way she keeps the reader hanging on -- quite literally in mid-air at the beginning -- while she digs into the background.

This is an informative and well-judged book. As a psychologist and broadcaster, Hammond is happy to point out where the experiments are inconclusive and where there are still a number of plausible theories, rather than trying to sell us a particular point of view. Equally, she is very happy to give us fascinating nuggets on the way, such as that a 'moment' lasts 2-3 seconds for almost everyone, and that our body clocks operate to a strict 24 hour 31 minute time scale, which is then corrected by daylight -- as good an explanation as any as to why we would always prefer to sleep longer and stay up later.

In the best tradition of psychology related books, there are numerous exercises which you can do yourself which are used to prove the more implausible points, and are fun in themselves.

As well as analysing the theories which are current, the author neatly disposes of things which we all thought we knew. For example, the theory that time seems to speed up as you get older because -- proportionately to the rest of the life they've already experienced -- a year for a sixty year old is 1/10th as long as a year for a six year old turns out not to be true at all.

Wilkie Collins once wrote to Charles Dickens 'Make 'em laugh, make 'em cry, but above all, make 'em wait'. Claudia Hammond has taken this to heart more than any author I've ever read. In the first pages she introduces us to Chuck Berry (not that Chuck Berry), a skydiver who was left plummeting towards the earth when both his parachutes failed. She doesn't tell us what the actual outcome was until a lot later.

All in all, this is an enjoyable and discursive book. It does not give all the answers to what time is, and it doesn't try to. But the walk round the subject is very informative, and most non-specialist readers will leave it with things they didn't know and ideas that had not previously occurred.

Well worth a read.
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VINE VOICEon 12 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The problem, for me, with this book is that it never attempts to get to grips with the question, 'What is time?'.

We have a chapter on synisthesia - the mixing of our senses whereby some people see colours when they hear music and associate a specific colour with each day of the week, etc..

We are told that day dreaming is good; it is evolutions method allowing us to prepare for possible futures. Each time we buy a lottery ticket we dream of what we would do were our numbers to come up and are thus more prepared in the (very) unlikely event that such occurs. Next, we are told that we do not use this information well; we skew our use to only the last time that we considered the prospect. In a sentence, the useful nature of day dreams, built up over a chapter, is shattered.

We gain advice as to how to slow down time, if one feels it is running away from one, or speed it up if time palls. Both solutions are more interesting than practical and the whole concept of concerning oneself with the attempt has slightly less value than it would have been to issue each passenger on the Titanic with a tea cup and suggest that they start to bail.

The book is well presented and Claudia Hammond has a pleasing style, although her little homilies, whilst designed to relegate the author to 'no better than the reader', came across as invented, rather than drawn from life. She tells the story of a programme she made for Radio in which she 'remembers' taking part in an experiment whereby one plunges one's arm in iced water to discover how long one can bear the pain. Having mentioned this to a fellow broadcaster, the tape is checked: she watched others, but did not take part herself. Ms. Hammond admits to false memory syndrome (one cannot be mistaken!). I know that I would fight harder for my belief that I had completed the experiment - " it must have been cut out of the final programme", "I must have done it prior to, or post production", are but the two responses that would immediately spring to my tongue.

Quite an entertaining read, but do not expect a wiser perspective upon time.
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