Not long ago, around fifteen volunteers began an extraordinary experience: spending 40 days in a cave in order to push confinement to the extreme. The goal? To study the brain’s capacities to cope with confinement from an emotional and adaptive point of view. The scientists responsible for this initiative want to find solutions to respond to the effects induced by these extreme changes.
Learn the links between our brains and time
One year after the first confinement in France, Deep Time expedition just started. On March 14, 2021, 15 volunteers aged 27 to 50 joined the Lombrives cave in Ussat (Ariège), their new home for the next few weeks. On the official website of the expedition, the head of mission Christian Clot explains:
“During an exceptional period, an extraordinary expedition in France: 40 days underground to learn the links between our brains and time, as well as with the capacity for functional synchronization within a group. This is a fundamental need for our future. ”
It must be said that during confinement – synonymous with loss of spatio-temporal landmarks – in connection with the health situation induced by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, our capacities to adapt as well as our emotions have been abused. However, the Deep Time expedition will be used to understand how to respond to impacts caused by these changes.
A world first
Participants stay in the cave without a watch, phone or natural light. In addition, the environmental conditions are rather difficult, with a temperature of 12 ° C and one humidity of 95%. In addition, the team will have to use a pedal boat system to generate its own electricity and draw water from a depth of 45 m. On the surface, scientists will follow participants using sensors.
According to Étienne Koechlin, director of the cognitive and computational neuroscience laboratory at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS), the Deep Time expedition is a world first. The person concerned indicated that until now, all missions of this type had for objective the study of the physiological rhythms of the body. On the other hand, there was never any question of measuring the impact of this kind of temporal break. on cognitive and emotional functions of the human being.
A few weeks ago, we were talking about the experiences of the illustrious French geologist Michel Siffre. The aim of the person concerned was to prove that there was a internal clock in humans, imposing on their organism a rhythm of 24 hours. Greatly strengthening knowledge in the field of chronobiology, Michel Siffre will have spent two full months in the chasm of Scarasson (Alpes Ligures), at a depth of 100 m.