Time perception and time consciousness

How do we perceive time? Findings on the relationship between affect and time, together with recent conceptualizations on self- and body processes have connected time perception with emotional and bodily states. Neural processes in the insular cortex, which are related to body signals, feeling states as well as to self-consciousness, are constitutive mechanisms for the creation of subjective time.

Next to fundamental research on the relationship between the experience of time with cognitive processes and affect, we study how the sense of time is modulated in altered states of consciousness such as in meditation or in drug-induced states as well as in neurological and psychiatric conditions.



PD Dr. Marc Wittmann
Tel: +49 (0)761 20721 73


Damisela Linares Gutierrez, M.A.
Tel: +49 (0)761 20721 17


Dr. Federico Alvarez Igarzábal
Tel: +49 (0)761 20721 71

Current external funds:

    01/2019 - 12/2023: VIRTUALTIMES - Exploring and modifying the sense of time in virtual environments.

    EU Call Horizon 2020 Topic FETPROACT-01-2018 with € 4,404,698 (Freiburg lab: € 505,000). Investigators: Kai Vogeley (Cologne), Marc Wittmann (Freiburg), Anne Giersch (Strasbourg), Marc Erich Latoschik, Jean-Luc Lugrin (Würzburg), Giulio Jacucci, Niklas Ravaja (Helsinki), Xavier Palomer, Xavier Oromi (Barcelona).

    Exploring and Modifying the Sense of Time in Virtual Environments (VIRTUALTIMES)

    The sense of time co-constitutes our subjective experience and embodied self-consciousness. It refers to the dimensions of passage of time (time passing by) and structure of time (serial order of events). Both can be disturbed under psychopathological conditions and give rise to a variety of psychopathological symptoms. VIRTUALTIMES will for the first time (1) provide a personalized and neuroadaptive virtual reality technology enabling the systematic variation of time experience, based on (2) the rigorous study of the sense of time in different psychopathological conditions including depression, schizophrenia and autism, and (3) neuroscientific measures that describe neural mechanisms which underlie our sense of time and validate both diagnostic differences and technological interventions. For that purpose, virtual reality scenarios and games will be developed from the starting point of the everyday scenario “waiting room”. We will systematically enrich the scenery both physically (objects) and socially (interaction partners). In the realm of time-based interventions this will allow to manipulate passage of time (varying velocity of time flow) and structure of time (varying synchronicity of events). VIRTUALTIMES (1) will provide a diagnostic tool and innovative mental health technology that works in a highly individualized, easy-access, and easy-to-use application, (2) will foster new technological developments in the field of human-computer-interaction to improve personal wellbeing and intercultural communication in a global world, and (3) will initiate a radical shift both in empirical approaches to and our understanding of the sense of time as basic constituent of human subjectivity.

Selected publications:

The complete list of publications can be found here

Further information about the research of Marc Wittmann: https://sites.google.com/site/webmarcwittmann