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What is the time resolution of our senses? © Getty

What is the time resolution of our senses?

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The speed of each sense is fast but some much faster than others.

Asked by: Lillia Nelson (age 10), Hampshire


When you watch a film, the cinema projects a series of still frames one after the other, but you perceive it as continuous motion because each frame is only shown for about 40 milliseconds.


In fact, under ideal conditions we can spot a flicker in a light even if it lasts for just 25 milliseconds. Our other senses react at different speeds, though. Hearing is much faster, with a time resolution of just three milliseconds, but touch can only manage 50 milliseconds. Smell and taste are the slowest and can take more than a second to react to a new sensation.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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