France | 40 days in a cave for an experience

France |  40 days in a cave for an experience

(Tarascon-sur-Ariège) Fifteen members of the Deep Time Mission volunteered for 40 days in a cave in the Pyrenees (southwest). Saturday found light in the daytime and described their experiences, marked by the synchronicity of sleep, as well as the “wonder” in front of this “extraordinary” environment.


Daniel Martinez
France Media Agency

Surprised by the sun, wearing sunglasses, the members of the Deep Time expedition reconnected with the outside world, their faces a little pale but visually in good shape.

Without a watch, telephone or natural light, 15 volunteers, led by Franco-Swiss explorer Christian Clott, had to use 10.5 degrees and 100% humidity to draw water with their own power at a depth of 45 meters by pedal boat in the Lombrevs Cave in Ariage.

Photo by Renata Brito, AP, Human Adaptation Institute

Humidity has a big impact. Over time we have seen fatigue and exhaustion, and the need for food is increasing, ”Mr. Clott said.

In particular, other participants commented that they felt that too little time had elapsed when they were warned that the 40-day period had expired.

A shock

“It simply came to our notice then. I thought I had five or six days left, ”said Emily Kim-fu, a 29-year-old nurse who is part of the group.

During the experiment, participants found greater asymmetry in sleep cycles. So when some got up, others went to bed.

“We had no timeline,” said Tiffany Warrier, a 32-year-old psychomotor therapist.

Marie-Carolyn Lagasche, a 50-year-old jewelry saleswoman, said: “We are more likely to sleep less at night.

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Usually, “I don’t remember my dreams. I had a nice surprise. I remember a few dreams in the cave, ”said 29-year-old biologist Arnaud Burrell.

Back to reality

Clott, founder of the Human Adaptation Institute, who confirmed that he knew there was a “new prison in France”, spoke of “going back to reality” and pointing out that there was no mask in the cave, “an interesting form of freedom.

Yet in the opinion of the Franco-Swiss explorer, Deep Time aims to study our ability to cope with the loss of spatio-temporal landmarks, especially a question related to the health crisis.

Photo Human Adaptation Institute via AP

Although researchers have linked this, other scientists are skeptical of the approach, which points to a lack of an adequate “rigorous” framework.

Etienne Kochlin, director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Ecol Normal Superior (ENS), which participates in “deep-time” research, defends its “innovative” nature.

Therefore, the information about the brain and the cognitive capacity of the participants collected before entering the cave will be compared with the collected information, especially to study the changes in the nervous system associated with this abnormal environment.

Like other researchers, Pierre-Marie Lededo, director of the Genes, Synapses and Cognition Laboratory (CNRS), and Institute Pasteur’s “Perception and Memory” unit, underscores the lack of “group control” that allows results to be compared. People who were in contact with others were outside, which, according to him, prevents the results from being scientifically validated.

In total, Deep Time will require 1.2 million in funding, which was attended by both private and public partners.

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“Getting out of the cave is very complicated in experience, you have to reconnect with (our) world, leave each other” After spending 40 days together, the leader of the expedition, Christian Clot, concluded.

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