How to make people think you can read minds

Is there a psychological explanation for ESP?

Although there is no research evidence to support mind-reading via extrasensory perception (ESP), there are individuals who are extremely skilled at reading others’ body language and making educated guesses about what they are thinking or feeling. Psychologist William Ickes calls it “everyday mind-reading,” and there is evidence that we can develop our perceptual skills and become better at reading other people’s feelings and thoughts.

Nonverbal Decoding Skill. Much of our ability to tap into others’ feelings and emotions is through individual differences in “reading” others’ nonverbal emotional expressions, particularly through facial expressions and tone of voice. To give you a sense of what a skilled nonverbal decoder can do, watch a professional “mindreader” or “mentalist” at work on stage. The “mentalist” seems to have some sort of ESP, but is actually reading the nonverbal cues of audience members. The mindreader says, “Someone here has recently experienced a loss of a family member,” and then looks for subtle reactions. Zeroing in on the person who reacts, the mentalist probes around and watches for reactions. It’s not ESP, it’s highly-developed nonverbal decoding skill. The way to improve your ability to decode nonverbal cues is through systematic practice. Here is a guide for improving nonverbal decoding skill.

Consider the Context. It isn’t enough to be a good decoder of nonverbal cues. To really be an everyday mindreader you need to consider the context. The same nonverbal behaviors in different contexts mean different things. Imagine a wife and husband in a group discussion. You notice the wife gently squeezes her husband’s hand. If it occurs during a lull in a conversation, it likely is a sign of affection. If it occurs after someone else has said something provocative, it might mean “pay attention” or “remember what I told you?” If it occurs after the husband has said something, it might mean “keep quiet!” Context matters.

Deception Detection Strategies. One might be motivated to become an everyday mindreader in order to tell if others are lying or telling the truth. I’m sorry to tell you that research shows that we are simply not very good at detecting deception. There are some rare individuals, however, who have exceptional ability to detect lies. Psychologists Paul Ekman and Maureen O’Sullivan labeled these people “wizards” of lie detection. How do they do it? The wizards look for inconsistencies in nonverbal behavior, or between what a person is saying and how they are saying it. They also analyze the context. Importantly, they don’t fall prey to mental shortcuts when it comes to lie detection, such as believing that a liar won’t make eye contact, or will look in a certain direction when lying. Research actually shows that liars engage in more eye contact than truth-tellers. Good liars know all about the mental shortcuts people are prone to. (Here is an earlier post that might help you in improving at lie detection.)

So, how do you become a better everyday mindreader?

1. Get Motivated. It’s not easy to be a good nonverbal decoder, so you have to have the dedication to do it.

2. Practice. Reading body language and contextual cues require a great deal of practice. Importantly, you need to practice in a way that allows you to assess your accuracy. In other words, if you don’t know the “truth,” you can’t learn to become more accurate.

3. Don’t Take Mental Shortcuts. Don’t assume that a certain nonverbal cue always means the same thing. Don’t fall prey to stereotypes about people and their body language. For example, several studies suggest that deception is better detected by focusing on the liar’s words, rather than their body language. In other words, is the lie plausible? Are the verbal and nonverbal cues consistent?

How to make people think you can read minds

You knew what was going to happen before it happened and the fact that you had psychic ability and could read minds surprised you. This experience of being right on with your intuition about things that haven’t happened yet is more common than you might think.

It’s possible that psychics don’t have any skills beyond what we possess ourselves. Psychics have simply learned to be excellent observers. With practice, you can learn to develop your psychic abilities so that reading someone’s mind becomes a powerful tool.

Predicting someone’s thoughts is easier the more that you know about reading people. In learning to detect the small, observable things that people do with their bodies and words when speaking to you, you can pick up on what is not being said.

If you could read minds, it would make your life much easier, so let’s explore how to access your psychic ability to read someone’s mind. Here are a few suggestions to practice with.

Reading body language

Hands in fists on hips, a furrowed brow and slightly downturned mouth are pretty universally understood as angry body language. If you were tying to read this person’s mind, their thoughts would sound like “I can’t believe you did that. I’m so frustrated with you!”

Now let’s try another one. If a person is resting their chin in the palm of one hand, has slightly pursed lips, and their eyebrows are raised slightly while they are looking up at you, what would you guess their thoughts would be? This is a typically bored posture, so their thoughts might be “I wish I was somewhere else doing what I want to do.”

Reading facial expressions

An easy trick for determining what someone’s facial expression means is to mimic their face yourself. One your facial muscles repeat what theirs are doing, you can sense the emotion that they are feeling because you know what corresponding emotion goes with that set of facial movements.

For example, if someone is raising their eyebrows near the bridge of their nose and opening their mouth slightly, they are probably trying to plead with you for something that they want.

Withholding the truth can be seen in people’s facial expressions. One study found that when people are withholding their emotions, they tend to blink faster. The study also found that people who are hiding something have facial expressions that are inconsistent with their emotions, for example smiling when they are angry.

You can read more about how to tell if someone is lying to you here.

Reading into language

Ask yourself, “What aren’t they telling me?” The things that a person says are almost as important as what is left unsaid. Leaving things unspoken could mean that the person is trying to keep their options open or attempting to deceive you by failing to be specific. They could also be trying to be diplomatic by only telling you what you want to hear.

Lie-spotting author Pamela Meyer says that people will gloss over details when they are lying. For example, if you ask what they were looking at on their computer and they say “Oh just some stuff that somebody posted,” they are probably hiding something from you.

Trusting your intuition

Your intuition is that inner voice that is very important for reading minds. The intuition is picking up on cues from our environment when we may not even notice them. It uses all of this information that it has gathered to come to a conclusion.

The intuition is particularly important for making trust decisions. When your safety is on the line, your intuition will tell you whether a person can be relied on to keep you from harm. Reading someone’s mind when it comes to protecting yourself is an important use of your psychic abilities.

Learn to tell the difference between your expectations and reality

Ask yourself what you hope you will read in the other person’s thoughts. This is one possible thing that they are thinking, but it is more likely that your desires are clouding your ability to perceive clearly.

Learning to calm your thoughts is helpful with accessing your psychic ability to read someone’s mind. Your own thoughts can interfere with what you are trying to pick up on. Clearing your mind through meditation, deep breathing, and spending quiet time in nature can help you to be more receptive.

You can read more about how to prepare yourself for mind reading here.

Get more Oxytocin

In a study of mind reading skills, that is people’s ability to read the mental state of someone by interpreting subtle social cues, data suggests that oxytocin helps. Oxytocin is released by the brain when you receive a hug, do something exciting, or have an orgasm as well as during other pleasurable activities.

Researchers found that oxytocin improves the ability to infer the mental state of others from social cues of the eyes. Giving someone a hug before you try to read their mind might be the boost that your intuition needs to get the right answer.

The future for mind reading holds some promise for technology that can reconstruct your thoughts. Researchers studying how the brain maps information have discovered that they can reconstruct images based on what areas of the brain are activated as seen in an MRI. Once they know how mental representations map onto patterns of neural activity, they were able to demonstrate several impressive feats of mind reading.

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How to make people think you can read minds

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How to make people think you can read minds

  • B.A., English, St. Olaf College

Your mind is a very powerful thing, and most of us take it for granted. We believe we aren’t in control of what we think because our thoughts seem to fly in and out all day long. But you are in control of your thoughts, and you become what you think about. And that little kernel of truth is the secret power of the mind.

It’s really not a secret after all. The power is available to every single person, including you. And it’s free.

“The secret” is that you are what you think. You become what you think about. You can create the life you want, simply by thinking the right thoughts.

Earl Nightingale on “The Strangest Secret”

In 1956, Earl Nightingale wrote “The Strangest Secret” in an attempt to teach people the power of the mind, the power of thought. He said, “you become what you think about all day long.”

Nightingale’s inspiration came from Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich,” published in 1937.

For 75 years (and likely long before that), this simple “secret” has been taught to adults around the world. At the very least, the knowledge has been available to us.

How the Power of the Mind Can Work to Improve Your Life

We are creatures of habit. We tend to follow the picture in our minds created by our parents, our neighborhoods, our towns and the part of the world from which we come. For good or for bad.

But we don’t have to. We each have a mind of our own, capable of imagining life the way we want it. We can say yes or no to the million choices we each encounter every single day. Sometimes it’s good to say no, of course, or we wouldn’t get anything at all done. But the most successful people say yes to life overall. They are open to possibilities. They believe they have the power to make changes in their lives. They aren’t afraid to try new things or to fail.

In fact, many of the most successful companies reward people who have the courage to try new things, even if they fail, because the things we call failures often turn into extremely successful things. Did you know Post-It Notes were a mistake in the beginning?

How to Use the Power of Your Mind

Start imagining your life the way you want it. Create a picture in your mind and think about that picture steadfastly all day long. Believe in it.

You don’t have to tell anybody. Have your own quiet confidence that you can make the picture in your mind come true.

You will start making different choices in line with your picture. You will take small steps in the right direction.

You’ll also encounter obstacles. Don’t let these obstacles stop you. If you hold your picture of the life you want steadfast in your mind, you will eventually create that life.

What have you got to lose? Close your eyes and start now.

Humans cannot literally read the minds of others, but can create mental models so as to effectively intuit people’s thoughts and feelings. This is known as empathic accuracy, and it involves “reading” cues telegraphed by the words, emotions, and body language of another person.

Most people are able to read others to some degree, but those on the autism spectrum or individuals afflicted with psychotic disorders may struggle to discern the emotions or social cues of others.

Often, knowing our own mind and motivations is challenging enough, let alone the minds of strangers or even relatives, friends, or partners. In relationships, many people make the critical mental mistake of overestimating a partner or family member’s ability to read their own thoughts, assuming that anyone who knows them well should also know what they think or feel, even if they haven’t said it out loud.

Contents

  • How People Read Each Other
  • Improving Your People-Reading
  • When Mind Reading Is a Challenge

How People Read Each Other

In science fiction stories, mind reading is routinely used for nefarious purposes. In the real world, having a clear sense of what others think and feel helps us avoid conflict and miscommunication and strengthen personal relationships.

When attempting to read someone’s mind—or, more accurately, their mood—body language, tone, and choice of words are usually the best places to begin. Another critical element is empathy: Being able to put oneself in someone else’s shoes can provide key insights into their perspective, and make understanding their thoughts, feelings, and actions that much easier.

Can people read each other’s minds?

Research suggests that our discernment of others’ emotions and trustworthiness may manifest in our body’s reactions to them at least as strongly as in our mental assessments of their speech. Trusting one’s gut, then, by being mindful of our body’s reactions to someone else, can help us make more accurate judgments about others.

What emotional signals do we give others?

When trying to read other people, we tend to look to their faces. Research shows that while the faces of happy people take on a V shape, with eyebrows and mouths turned up, angry people’s faces form more of an X, with eyebrows and mouths turned downward. Being conscious of this tendency in others and ourselves can improve communication and understanding.

How well do romantic partners read each other?

Romantic partners are not much better at reading each other’s feelings than they are at reading anyone else’s. By some estimates, even spouses may only gauge each other accurately about a third of the time. Partners may struggle to struggle to judge each other objectively because of sentiment override, in which one’s own feelings about a relationship influence their interpretation of a partner’s feelings.

Do individuals from different cultures read people differently?

As children, individuals raised in different cultures learn to adopt local norms for the display and expression of emotions. In places such as Japan, for example, people may emphasize masking emotions when others are present. People also read others differently based on their particular “cultural accents.” For example, Americans rate expressions of happiness, sadness, and surprise more intensely than other people do.

Change your life with the power of thought

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How to make people think you can read minds

Sollina Images/Blend Images/Getty Images

How to make people think you can read minds

  • B.A., English, St. Olaf College

Your mind is a very powerful thing, and most of us take it for granted. We believe we aren’t in control of what we think because our thoughts seem to fly in and out all day long. But you are in control of your thoughts, and you become what you think about. And that little kernel of truth is the secret power of the mind.

It’s really not a secret after all. The power is available to every single person, including you. And it’s free.

“The secret” is that you are what you think. You become what you think about. You can create the life you want, simply by thinking the right thoughts.

Earl Nightingale on “The Strangest Secret”

In 1956, Earl Nightingale wrote “The Strangest Secret” in an attempt to teach people the power of the mind, the power of thought. He said, “you become what you think about all day long.”

Nightingale’s inspiration came from Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich,” published in 1937.

For 75 years (and likely long before that), this simple “secret” has been taught to adults around the world. At the very least, the knowledge has been available to us.

How the Power of the Mind Can Work to Improve Your Life

We are creatures of habit. We tend to follow the picture in our minds created by our parents, our neighborhoods, our towns and the part of the world from which we come. For good or for bad.

But we don’t have to. We each have a mind of our own, capable of imagining life the way we want it. We can say yes or no to the million choices we each encounter every single day. Sometimes it’s good to say no, of course, or we wouldn’t get anything at all done. But the most successful people say yes to life overall. They are open to possibilities. They believe they have the power to make changes in their lives. They aren’t afraid to try new things or to fail.

In fact, many of the most successful companies reward people who have the courage to try new things, even if they fail, because the things we call failures often turn into extremely successful things. Did you know Post-It Notes were a mistake in the beginning?

How to Use the Power of Your Mind

Start imagining your life the way you want it. Create a picture in your mind and think about that picture steadfastly all day long. Believe in it.

You don’t have to tell anybody. Have your own quiet confidence that you can make the picture in your mind come true.

You will start making different choices in line with your picture. You will take small steps in the right direction.

You’ll also encounter obstacles. Don’t let these obstacles stop you. If you hold your picture of the life you want steadfast in your mind, you will eventually create that life.

What have you got to lose? Close your eyes and start now.

September 29, 2020 7:30 AM EST | 6 min read

Discover some mind blowing questions that will make you rethink who you are and where you are going.

When I was in fifth grade, the teacher asked the class, “what is the largest number?”. We each grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper and toiled away at our best guess.

One by one we raced to the teacher’s desk and showed her various numbers with long strings of zeroes or nines and one by one we returned to our desks puzzled as to what that elusive number might be.

Finally, the teacher asked “what is your number plus one? Or plus two? Or plus one hundred?”. And at that moment, I grasped the concept of infinity. It was mind-blowing to a ten year old. Mathematics would never be the same again.

That is what happens when intriguing, mind-blowing questions get asked. They often lead to mind-blowing answers that forever change how you view things.

Below are seven mind-blowing questions that might make you rethink your life if you take the time to give a thoughtful answer. Keep in mind that while the questions themselves might seem fairly ordinary at first glance, it is what you do with the questions that can potentially have a life-changing impact.

Mind Blowing Question #1: Where do your thoughts originate?

If you said “my brain” think again. It may NOT be that simple.

Science has yet to explain how physical materials—brain cells and neurotransmitters—bring about the non-physical result we call “thought.” Plus, how do we explain phenomena such as telepathy or premonitions, where minds communicate with one another when there is NO physical connection to allow it? Some experts postulate that consciousness exists outside the brain and the brain operates more as a filter.

In other words, our minds are not “local” to our brain but “non-local.” We simply download it from a place outside of ourselves. If you believe that your spirit lives on after your body dies, you are acknowledging that your consciousness does not originate in your brain.

Many writers of songs or books cannot fully explain how they created a certain melody or beautiful turn-of-the-phrase. “It just came to me!” they would say. If you consider the idea that your thoughts can be coming from a source outside of you, does that inspire you or frighten you?

Mind Blowing Question #2: If you lost everything that was important to you—money, relationships, health, etc.—what could sustain you?

If you live long enough or love hard enough, you will eventually lose something or someone that means the world to you. Then what? How strongly do you embrace such things as faith, hope, gratitude, beauty, and love in order to still discover a meaningful life after a great loss?

Believe it or not, cultivating such virtues now can give you strength in times of great need.

Mind Blowing Question #3: Where in your life do you have peace of mind?

The less at peace you are, the more stressed and unhappy you will be. The mistake people make is assuming that peace of mind can only occur when all is well, when one’s troubles are resolved and the future is completely bright. But how often does that happen?

When you can learn to accept things you cannot change, to follow the light instead of the shadow, to find the beauty within the ugly, to discover the hope within the despair, and trust in the belief that you always have the capacity to change your life and the lives of others for the better, inner peace will blossom.

Mind Blowing Question #4: What if you believed that you exist for a Divine purpose?

Even if you don’t believe that at all, what if you believed that? What difference might that make in your actions, your attitudes, and your choices? And if you answer these mind-blowing questions, what does that tell you about the course your life is on right now?

The search for that purpose may be unknown to you. If so, examine your passions—that which truly excites and fulfills you—for your Divine purpose may have something to do with those yearnings. Notice when “random” events or “coincidences” occurred that pointed you in directions you might not otherwise have taken. Those are clues to your Divine purpose.

Mind Blowing Question #5: What do you wish people understood about you that they don’t (fully) understand now?

The answer to this question might reveal why you have problems in certain relationships or why you feel lonely or misunderstood. It might be a clue that you haven’t made it clear to others what you need them to understand. It might indicate something about yourself that you are afraid of revealing.

It might even be an aspect of yourself that even YOU don’t fully understand or appreciate. If others did understand that aspect of who you are, then what difference might it make in your relationships, happiness, goals, or your sense of fulfillment?

Mind Blowing Question #6: What if you were more aware that every thought, feeling, or action of yours has a definite and timeless ripple-effect?

The truth is your thoughts and deeds DO have a ripple effect.

If you took that into consideration, much more than you now do, how would that change your decisions and actions? If you believed that even simple actions, such as how you treat the cashier at your favorite coffee shop, would in turn have a ripple effect that affected dozens of other people—loved ones and strangers—what effect would you want that to be?

In every interaction you make, YOU have the power to open another person’s spirit or close it. Be mindful.

Mind Blowing Question #7: Can you peacefully co-exist with uncertainty?

If you can’t relax unless you know what an outcome will be before it happens; if you can’t make positive steps forward without knowing what you will find around the corner; if you must always have fallback plans to ensure that nothing can go wrong – then you will rarely have calm moments.

You might also be unknowingly driving people around you crazy. Uncertainty is a huge part of our everyday life and impossible to eradicate.

If you examine the most important things that happened in your life—good and bad—you will realize that they were unexpected and unplanned. You may be happily married but the day before you met your spouse you may never have known they existed.

The same is true with your best friends. Who your parents were, where you grew up, who your teachers were—meeting them were all unplanned by you. When you can embrace uncertainty as a friend and not fear it, you can quiet your mind and have access to inner guidance or insights you wouldn’t otherwise have noticed when your mind is full of chatter and scary “what if?” thoughts.

If any of these mind blowing questions made you rethink who you are and where you are going, then you are on track to make some truly amazing changes in your life. So the next question is: “what’s your next step?

Everyday Power ► 7 Mind Blowing Questions to Make You Rethink Life

Are telepathic powers just supernatural talents seen in movies? Some people claim that these abilities are real.

Last year, I read a study about mind to mind communication, a study which suggested that telepathic powers might be real. As I read and studied this phenomenon, I wondered why we don’t utilize this gift to navigate through life’s issues. But then I realized how hard it would be to enter that place that allows us to implement telepathic powers, and indeed, it sounds like quite a feat.

The scientific community and most people deny this ability since we haven’t seen enough proof. We also refuse to accept the taboo of entering the privacy of others’ minds. I mean, would you be all that excited about mental intrusions? I thought not.

Regardless, according to the spiritual point of view, the third eye is present within us all, and if you’ve had a feeling you might be capable of utilizing this gift, this information is for you.

What are the signs of telepathic powers, according to psychics?

People were asked which ability they would love to have if they could have superhuman powers. Telepathic abilities were among the five most desirable superpowers. There are so many reasons why some of us would love to “read minds”, as invasive and nerve-wracking as it may be.

Psychics claim that there are ways to tell if you could be nearing this potential. According to them, these 6 signs may be indicative of the need to embrace telepathy.

1. Dreams increase and become more vivid

I have vivid dreams quite a bit, and I also notice when they increase in frequency and detail. Until I studied the signs of rising telepathic abilities, I thought nothing of it. Apparently, a drastic increase in your frequency of dreams and the fact that they become more vivid might be a sign that your third eye is opening.

Pay attention to whether you can smell things, feel things, and actually become emotional in dreams. All these sensations will increase as you start to recall more details about your dreams, when awake. Keep a journal by the bed so that after you awaken, you can record the content of these dreams. Any aspects of these dreams could tell you about your hidden potential.

2. Nausea and illnesses

Psychics claim that the rising of pure energy, signifying telepathic power, will cause a chemical change in the body. What you feel as sickness could possibly be the reconstruction of the body’s spiritual and chemical compounds. In Sanskrit, this process is called “tapas” or purification. Basically, the body is preparing to utilize unfamiliar abilities.

Now, I’m not saying ignore physical symptoms of illness, nor am I suggesting you ignore mental illness side effects, that’s not the case. But if all this has been taken into consideration, then you should be open-minded and accept what could be your time of awakening.

3. Recurring headaches

Have you noticed an increase in headaches lately? What you could be experiencing is an influx of energy. You might be able to tell the difference between a “regular” a headache and an awakening, due to the fact that the awakening will be similar to a migraine – it will be extremely painful. When these headaches occur, try soaking your feet in warm water to help ground these intense energies.

You can also try using essential oils to take the edge off these headaches. After all, psychics argue that they will continue until you accept your awakening and utilize your telepathic energies.

4. You will change your circle of friends

When you start to experience the awakening of telepathic powers, you will be more energized and upbeat, according to psychics. You will start to refrain from negativity and thus, your friends will either be happy for you or they will fall away. Those who are used to talking about negative things will lose interest in your company, these will fall away first.

You will then start to attract people who are much different from your routine company. Your energies and their own will start to synchronize. When these things start to happen, you can be sure that something big is on the horizon.

5. Priorities will change

Psychics say that when you start to develop telepathic powers, all the things that you placed at the utmost importance will lose their relevance. Those arguments that used to keep you up at night will start to have a different meaning. You will choose to put more importance on larger things, especially spiritual things.

As the universe starts to put new people in your path and new opportunities, you will see with new eyes, namely the third eye as it awakens in the pineal gland.

Have you experienced a shift in moods lately? Does it feel like you are going through a rough mental patch, worse than anything you have experienced before? If so, your mind could be preparing you for an elevation, so to speak. As you become confused about previous things, you will start to gain clarity about others. This, in turn, will cause those priority changes, I spoke about.

6. Increase in empathy

You could be experiencing your first indications of telepathy when you notice an increase in empathy. Being empathic allows you to feel what others feel, and sometimes this is difficult for people.

If you find yourself getting a little too upset about an isolated situation, you could be absorbing emotions from others. Victims or survivors could be sending out energies that are pricking your sensitivities.

Awakening telepathic powers or something else?

As you may have noticed, the above symptoms are quite general. Psychics claim that they are nothing but the signs of the awakening telepathic powers or other psychic abilities, but in reality, they could be anything from existential crisis to spiritual awakening.

The reality of the metaphysical phenomena such as telepathy remains unconfirmed, so this topic highly depends on what you personally believe in. If you believe that there is something more than just the material world, you could be convinced that you are telepathic. Who knows? Unless if we find solid evidence of psychic phenomena, we will never know for sure.

In any case, it’s good to keep your mind open to possibilities but also make sure that you don’t fall a victim to blind beliefs that blur your judgment.

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Free will, from a neuroscience perspective, can look like quite quaint. In a study published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers in Australia were able to predict basic choices participants made 11 seconds before they consciously declared their decisions.

In the study, 14 participants—each placed in an fMRI machine—were shown two patterns, one of red horizontal stripes and one of green vertical stripes. They were given a maximum of 20 seconds to choose between them. Once they’d made a decision, they pressed a button and had 10 seconds to visualize the pattern as hard as they could. Finally, they were asked “what did you imagine?” and “how vivid was it?” They answered these questions by pressing buttons.

Using the fMRI to monitor brain activity and machine learning to analyze the neuroimages, the researchers were able to predict which pattern participants would choose up to 11 seconds before they consciously made the decision. And they were able to predict how vividly the participants would be able to envisage it.

Lead author Joel Pearson, cognitive neuroscience professor at the University of South Wales in Australia, said that the study suggests traces of thoughts exist unconsciously before they become conscious. “We believe that when we are faced with the choice between two or more options of what to think about, non-conscious traces of the thoughts are there already, a bit like unconscious hallucinations,” he said in a statement. “As the decision of what to think about is made, executive areas of the brain choose the thought-trace which is stronger. In, other words, if any pre-existing brain activity matches one of your choices, then your brain will be more likely to pick that option as it gets boosted by the pre-existing brain activity.”

The work has implications for how we understand uncomfortable thoughts: Pearson believes the findings explain why thinking about something only leads to more thoughts on the subject, as it creates “a positive feedback loop.” The study also suggests that unwelcome visualizations, such as those experienced with post-traumatic stress disorder, begin as unconscious thoughts.

Though this is just one study, it’s not the first to show that thoughts can be predicted before they are conscious. As the researchers note, similar techniques have been able to predict motor decisions between seven and 10 seconds before they’re conscious, and abstract decisions up to four seconds before they’re conscious. Taken together, these studies show how understanding how the brain complicates our conception of free will.

Neuroscientists have long known that the brain prepares to act before you’re consciously aware, and there are just a few milliseconds between when a thought is conscious and when you enact it. Those milliseconds give us a chance to consciously reject unconscious impulses, seeming to form a foundation of free will.

Freedom, however, can be enacted by both the unconscious and conscious self—and there are neuroscientists who claim that being controlled by our own unconscious brain is hardly an affront to free will. Studies showing that neuroscientists can predict our actions long before we’re aware of them don’t necessarily negate the concept of free will, but they certainly complicate our conception of our own minds.