It is possible that our subconscious mind somehow “sees” events 1 to 10 seconds in the future. Before we are consciously aware of an event, our bodies may react with changes in the cardiopulmonary, skin, and/or nervous systems.
A meta-analysis of more than 20 experiments conducted by seven independent laboratories suggested we are subconsciously capable of “predictive anticipatory activity (PAA).” This analysis, titled “Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: a meta-analysis,” was led by psychologist Julia A. Mossbridge at Northwestern University and was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology in October 2012.
In many of the studies analyzed, the subjects were shown randomly selected images designed to be either emotionally evocative or neutral. Before the image was displayed, the subject’s body would already register an appropriate response. The strongest reactions occurred after the image was shown, but a slight reaction already registered seconds beforehand, suggesting a subconscious response to a future stimulus.
The study authors used the following analogy to describe the phenomenon. Picture a stick standing up in the middle of a river with the water flowing around it. That stick represents a future event, it’s a perturbation—an emotional, arousing, or otherwise important event. The flow of the river represents the flow of time as your conscious mind perceives it.
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