Time Slice Theory: Is Consciousness as Fluid as We Think It Is?

Time Slice Theory: Is Consciousness as Fluid as We Think It Is?

Our brains have all sorts of shortcuts to help us experience reality more efficiently. For example, you’ve probably seen one of those tests circulating the internet with a sentence full of mispselled wrods taht dno’t raelly inhbit yuor raeding speed, as long as the frist and last lettres in evrey word are unchanged. This phenomenon may be part of a conceptual explanation known as the Time Slice Theory of consciousness, suggesting our minds stitch together a narrative of individual frames, rather than a continuous, live stream.

The paper was published on PLoS-biology by scientists Michael Herzog of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and Frank Scharnowski of the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Their theory says our brains process reality in individual moments, or what they call percepts, arising in 400 millisecond intervals. These percepts are then stitched together and rendered as a continuously flowing sequence of reality that makes sense to us – much like a movie shot in high definition.

But instead of watching the movie and making judgements as we observe them, our unconscious mind reviews individual images, processes them in an abstract order, and makes subjective judgements based on heuristics from past experience. It then translates those judgements into an apparently fluid narrative, allowing you to efficiently process reality.

Time Slice Theory of Consciousness & Perception

Time slice theory says we only process reality after 400 millisecond intervals, and that there is minimal to no conscious observation between those frames; our brains only collect sensory information at discrete time-points. It is also within this period that our minds frantically work to make sense of it all.

It’s mind-boggling to think our unconscious can work so quickly, but our brains are fascinatingly powerful processors. It’s believed the mind calculates roughly 1014-1016 processes per second, or somewhere between 1 and 100 quadrillion calculations per second. The average computer functions at about half that speed.

So, what exactly happens during that unconscious judgement phase? According to Time Slice Theory, the brain processes specific features of objects, such as color and shape, quasi-consciously or unconsciously with high resolution. Within this moment there is no sense of linear time, in fact, changes in duration or even color aren’t processed. It then draws the necessary connections and stitches them together to pass off to the conscious stage.

Sometimes this period happens instantaneously and other times it takes longer, depending on the complexity of the information being fed to it. Occasionally, this leads to reactions based on false judgements, such as in fight-or-flight instances, but these instincts are naturally made to surpass the logical decision-making process, usually for survival reasons.

For instance, if someone jumps out of a closet and scares you, your unconscious perception recognizes an ostensible threat of unexpected, encroaching movement, in turn telling you to move or attack the stimulus without logical consideration.

Schizophrenics often report a slowed integration process in which the window of logical deduction takes longer and their stream of perception is fragmented.

This seems to parallel Robin Carhart-Harris’ entropic brain hypothesis regarding the Default Mode Network, the region of the brain believed to be responsible for the ego. His theory says that during a psychedelic, creative, or psychotic experience the mind sifts through more possible outcomes than it normally would, drawing from a number of seemingly incorrect conclusions to make sense of what it’s observing; with psychedelics this is what results in visual hallucinations.

Our brains can also draw false conclusions about reality while being completely aware of them. One such instance is known as the Cutaneous Rabbit Illusion; a physical deception in which a syncopated tapping of the wrist and elbow tricks the mind into feeling as if a tiny, invisible rabbit is hopping up the arm. This illusion happens because the mind infers the sensation in between the two areas of stimulation.

Listen to Alan Watts discuss our confusing perception of time:

Alan Watts: Time

Similar Buddhist Theory of Consciousness

In the third century BC, the Abhidharma Buddhist School first recorded the concept of our brain’s discrete perception of reality. Their scripture refers to the threshold between conscious and unconscious awareness as the “Mind-door,” where we internalize information received through our sensory faculties.

The Mind-door characterizes the mind as the creator of subjective experience which forms the basis of memory and thought, and subsequently the micro-judgements that form the mind’s narrative. They considered the Mind-door to be our sixth sense, transcending time and making purely conceptual judgements.

Abhidharma Buddhists believed when an image reached this threshold, the mind would switch from inactive mode to any of the five-sense processes, based on whichever faculty was appropriate.

These discrete moments were referred to as dharmas – different from the teachings of the Buddha known as the dharma – used to describe experience encountered through the senses. But the dharmas weren’t simply objective experience, rather they are the product of “rapid consciousness that arise and cease in sequential streams, each having its own object, and that interact with the five externally directed sensory modalities of cognitive awareness.”

These dharmas are also described as “psycho-physical events with diverse capacities by means of which the mind unites and assimilates a particular perception, especially one newly presented, to a larger set of ideas already possessed, thus comprehending and conceptualizing it.” Sounds a lot like the Time Slice dynamic.

But Scharnowski and Herzog admit that their theory is purely conceptual and that the argument between a stream of consciousness theory and Time Slice theory remains unsettled. And while theirs is an interesting thought experiment into the way our brain processes consciousness, it doesn’t necessarily do much to answer the hard problem of consciousness itself – that is, what is consciousness?

The answer to that question remains to be understood if it can be understood in this realm at all. For more hints to help you answer such a primordial, existential question watch the documentary PHI: The Evolution of Consciousness:

PHI: The Evolution of Consciousness


How the 7 Seals of Consciousness Can Tell You Who You Are

How the 7 Seals of Consciousness Can Tell You Who You Are

The term “consciousness” is frequently heard these days, with everyone from spiritual leaders to yoga teachers to healing practitioners talking about the need to “raise your consciousness.” Do you even know what consciousness means? In our last article we shared that YOU are the only one who can raise your consciousness – you can’t rely on anyone else to do that for you.

Consciousness is thought. It is the way you think. It is your vantage point. Everyone has consciousness. Every one is made from consciousness. Everyone has low stages of consciousness and high stages of consciousness. These are just vantage points of thought and they hold different vibrations to them.

Most humans like to think that they are of very high consciousness, or at a minimum, that they are of far higher consciousness than most other people. But how do you know this for sure? We’d like to share with you our knowledge of the Seven Seals of Consciousness.

All reality is created from consciousness and energy, or thought and emotion. Everyone’s life is a demonstration of their consciousness and emotions. In the human experience, there are seven primary vantage points or perspectives from which you create your reality. Each of these seven levels (or Seals) displays certain traits and characteristics, or ways of reacting or being.

A Roadmap to Your Soul

The Seals are descriptions of vantage points that have either held you bound in resistance or which can finally release you into full abundance and creativity. Humans are mostly not taught (or don’t remember) that they have the ability to move through the various Seals of Consciousness to resolve issues in their life and to master the human physical experience so that everything moves fluidly.

By following the descriptions of the Seven Seals of Consciousness, you will finally be able to determine who you are. This is the elusive answer that so many humans are seeking. Once you determine that, you may move freely in any direction that YOU choose. No one chooses that for you. You have the empowerment to make the shifts in your life. The Seven Seals are a roadmap – a roadmap inwards that will take you into connection with your Soul.

We provide in-depth, comprehensive teaching on the Seven Seals of Consciousness. Here though is a brief overview of the key characteristics of each of the Seals. Each Seal also has a color associated with it. The coloration of the Seal of Consciousness is not the same as the Energy Frequency Bands (often referred to as the aura. We will cover more on that in a later discussion, but for now, let’s review each of the Seven Seals.

First Seal of Consciousness

  • Color: Brown
  • Name of Seal: Sub-Consciousness
  • Key Traits: Reproduction and Survival

Description: Humans residing in the first Seal of Consciousness primarily exhibit thoughts and attitudes that revolve around survival (looking out for #1), reproduction (concern with mating and bloodlines), rituals (e.g., superstition), and competition (the need to be the best). Reactive behavior based on disconnection from Source. Forty percent of humans reside in the First Seal.

Second Seal of Consciousness

  • Color: Red
  • Name: Social Consciousness
  • Key Traits: Control, Tyranny, Herd-Like Behavior

Description: In this Seal humans are still deeply seated in the belief of disconnection from Source. Displaying a “safety in numbers” mentality; not thinking for oneself and conforming to the views of the majority. Following guidelines and requirements set out by the community, church, government, and education system. Thirty percent of humans reside in the Second Seal.

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