The seven women and eight men, aged 27 to 50, exited the cave dazzled in the sun, around 10:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. Lisbon), their faces a little pale but looking good physically. condition.
Without a watch, phone or natural light, the 14 volunteers, led by the French-Swiss explorer Christian Klot, had to get used to the 12 ° C and 95% humidity of the Lombreves Cave in Areej, to generate their own electricity through the system’s pedals and extract water to a depth of 45 meters.
The humidity is so shocking. Klott, who spoke extensively with the press, revealed that the need for food increased with time and fatigue. Other participants noted that they had the impression that much less time had passed by the time they were told that the 40-day period was over.
“It was a real shock. I thought there were still five or six days to go,” said Emily Kim Fu, a 29-year-old nurse who was part of the group. During the experiment, called “deep time,” the participants also noticed a large variation in their sleep cycles. So when some people got up, others went to bed.
“We didn’t have time reference points,” explained Tiffin Vouireer, 32. “We might sleep more on some nights and less at others,” said Mary Caroline Lagash, a 50-year-old goldsmith.
Usually, “I don’t remember my dreams, but it’s surprising that I remember some of them in the cave,” revealed Arnaud Borrell, 29-year-old biologist.
According to Clot, founder of the Institute for Human Adaptation, this experiment aims to study our capabilities to adapt to the loss of spatial and temporal reference points, an issue raised above all by the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the researchers’ participation, many scholars criticized the lack of a “rigorous” framework for the experiment.
Etienne Koechlin, director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Escola Normal Superior (ENS), which is involved in the “Deep Time” investigations, defends his “innovative” personality.
The participants’ brain data and cognitive abilities obtained prior to entering the cave will be compared with those of the outlet, to study the changes in the nervous system associated with this exceptional environment.
Like other researchers, Pierre-Marie Lido, director of the “Genetics, Synapses and Cognition” laboratory at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the “Perception and Memory” unit at the Pasteur Institute, points out that there is no “group control”, which prevents scientific verification of Results.
In total, the “Deep Time” program has requested more than $ 1.4 million in funding, with the participation of both public and private sector partners.
“It’s very difficult to experience leaving the cave,” concluded the campaign leader, “We need to re-sync with our world and say goodbye” after 40 days together.