Time is an essential feature in bipolar disorder (BP). Manic and depressed BP patients perceive the speed of time as either too fast or too slow. The present article combines theoretical and empirical approaches to integrate phenomenological, psychological, and neuroscientific accounts of abnormal time perception in BP. Phenomenology distinguishes between perception of inner time, ie, self-time, and outer time, ie, world-time, that desynchronize or dissociate from each other in BP: inner time speed is abnormally slow (as in depression) or fast (as in mania) and, by taking on the role as default-mode function, impacts and modulates the perception of outer time speed in an opposite way, ie, as too fast in depression and too slow in mania. Complementing, psychological investigation show opposite results in time perception, ie, time estimation and reproduction, in manic and depressed BP. Neuronally, time speed can be indexed by neuronal variability, ie, SD. Our own empirical data show opposite changes in manic and depressed BP (and major depressive disorder [MDD]) with abnormal SD balance, ie, SD ratio, between somatomotor and sensory networks that can be associated with inner and outer time. Taken together, our combined theoretical-empirical approach demonstrates that desynchronization or dissociation between inner and outer time in BP can be traced to opposite neuronal variability patterns in somatomotor and sensory networks. This opens the door for individualized therapeutic "normalization" of neuronal variability pattern in somatomotor and sensory networks by stimulation with TMS and/or tDCS.
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