by Dan Eden for Viewzone

I am a skeptic. I don’t believe in fortune tellers or psychics. I
certainly doubted that I could forsee the future. But, as I did the
research for this article, I discovered that I was wrong. Everyone can
see into the future and we do it all the time.

Ooop! That wasn’t supposed to happen.

Our journey starts with an experiment conducted in 1976. Dr. Kornhuber
asked a number of volunteers to be wired with EEG electrodes to measure
their brain activity. He then asked the volunteers to flex the index
finger of their right hand, suddenly and at various times of their own
choosing. He wanted to measure how fast it took for the mental decision
to move the finger to actually make the finger move. His results were
not what he expected.

Kornhuber expected to find a sharp peak in electrical activity when the
decision was consciously made, at which point he would begin timing the
trials. However, what he found is remarkable, namely that there is a
gradual build-up of recorded electric potential for a full second, or
perhaps even up to a second and a half, before the finger is actually
flexed. This seems to indicate that the conscious decision process takes
over a second in order to act! Even more surprising was that the
volunteers were not aware of this delay and believed they were acting
spontaneously and instantly.

So what happened? Did the brain somehow "know" that the decision would be made in the future and begin planning the action?

The experiment received little attention until another experiment
conducted by Dr. Libet in 1979 raised questions about our conscious
perception of time and the idea of "now."

Everything "now" happened already!

Libet tested subjects who had to have brain surgery for some reason
unconnected with the experiment and who consented to having electrodes
placed at points in the brain, in the somatosensory cortex. He monitored
the electrical activity while stimulating their skin. To his amazement
it took about a half-second before the subjects were able to perceive
the stimulation. Further experiments showed that this same delay – about
a half second – was needed for all sensory input to reach

The significance of this is enormous. Everything we
know about the external world right now – the sounds, the sights, the
feelings – are all being delayed. Everything that you think is happening
right now actually happened already, about half a second ago!

So how is this possible? How do we drive cars, catch baseballs, swat
flies and write or draw if it’s all delayed? Well, the obvious answer is
that we have adapted the ability to compensate for the delay by
projecting our behavior into the future, which is really "now."

Confusing? Wait… it gets even better.

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