The conversations of life

Ever made a decision you regretted? You can now blame your brain, new research says


Our unconscious brain activity can determine our choices up to 11 seconds before we deliberately choose what to think about, according to the study conducted at the UNSW School of Psychology.

For the experiment, researchers asked study participants to freely choose between two patterns of red and green stripes – one of them running horizontally, the other vertically – and then visually imagine them afterwards. They were also asked to rate how strong they felt their visualisations of the patterns were.

Participants were then observed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine.

Amazingly, with the assistance of machine learning, not only could the researchers predict which pattern each person would choose 11 seconds before they did, they could also predict how the participants would rate their visualisations.

The study’s creators say they believe we may have thoughts “on standby” based on previous brain activity, which influences our final decision without us even being aware of it.

Guess that explains all my impulse shoe buying!

Pictured: Human brain in an fMRI. Imaged by Shutterstock.


Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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