Aging and the subjective experience of time

Claudio Crisci, Michelina Caccavale, Luigi Trojano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The subjective experience of time involves several, not yet identified, mechanisms. Many cognitive and emotional factors, such as attention, memory and subjective mental states can influence time estimation. Aims: We aimed to assess the subjective experience of time and its relationships with cognitive and emotional characteristics in the elderly. Method: Forty-nine non-demented patients hospitalized for orthopedic rehabilitation underwent an ‘ecological’ evaluation tool, the semi-structured QUEstionnaire for the Subjective experience of Time (QUEST) requiring retrospective and prospective judgements on self-relevant time intervals. All patients completed tests to assess general cognitive functioning and two questionnaires to evaluate emotional state. Results: Results showed that accuracy in time estimation did not differ in young–old vs. old–old individuals: both groups performed better on prospective than on retrospective items and on highly than on poorly self-relevant items. Multiple regression analysis showed that performance on QUEST was significantly related to depression and hospitalization duration, but not to age, education, or neuropsychological scores. Conclusions: The influence of the emotional state is consistent with theories postulating that the “sense of time” is emergent from emotional and visceral states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-332
Number of pages6
JournalAging clinical and experimental research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecological assessment
  • Elderly
  • Emotional state
  • Self-relevance
  • Time cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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