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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

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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.

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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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Authors

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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