December 22, 2007

From Dennis McAllister:

Re: Why we feel “slow motion” during crisis (Dec. 11): I don’t approve of the conduct of the experiment. I had two crises experiences, both involving my car going into a sudden spin, first to avoid a deer on a dark night, the second to avoid a very slow truck pulling in front of me.

First, let me say that my reflexes and analytical speed are far above normal and my analytic ability tests in the extreme. While young, I drove hydroplanes, which seem to be in a constant skid and require fast reflexes.

In the first instance my mind/visual system provided me with separate, individual pictures, interspersed with no picture. - kind of like a fast, mechanical, slide show.

In the second instance, I was in the right lane of a two lane elevated on-ramp between two freeways when a slow pickup moved from a full slow moving left lane into my empty right lane. I hit the brakes and kept getting closer to the truck. I aimed slightly to the right. After a while I started spinning and pointing to the left. I spun the steering wheel rapidly. Eventually I turned to straight ahead and then to the left, heading for the low railing about 70 feet above the freeway below. I was still skidding and braking. I realized that I needed to change what I was doing. I made the decision to hold the steering wheel still and take my foot off the brake. I stopped skidding, but was still moving. I quickly turned the steering wheel to the left and pointed the car straight ahead. I finally had slowed down and the pickup had speeded up so that I came within on two feet of it. In this instance I did not experience the same visual effects as I had 30 years earlier. I guess my speed was 65-70 and the truck was going 25-30.

At no time did I feel that time had speeded up. I just thought it was an interesting experience. In the first instance I surmised that my mind was working faster than my visual system could construct pictures. This may be the result of the hyperactivity of amygdala alluded to in the article.

Dennis McAllister
La Mesa CA 91942


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