Our Brains Can Change The Order Of Events

2 min readSep 28, 2022

Our perceptions can be affected in unexpected ways, making us see things differently than they really are.

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Our brain can influence our perceptions, making us see things that in reality went a little differently. In a new study, a team of scientists has discovered a “new perceptual illusion” that effectively rearranges the perceived temporal order of events into a sequence:

Is our perception of time and temporal order a faithful reflection of what happens in the world or can it create higher level of expectations, such as causality, and influence the order in which we experience events that happened?” writes a team of researchers led by Christos Bechlivanidis of University College London.

In a series of experiments, the researchers showed over 600 participants an animation in which a seemingly simple chain of events “ABC” appears to take place: a square A collides with a square B, which in turn collides with a square C. In truth, however, the animation showed that square C started moving before square B collided with it and before square B started moving from its collision with A.

After performing some experiments, we quickly realized that the expectation of a time direction (that causes precede their effects) is so strong that even if we reverse the order, people insist on seeing the causes first occur.

There is still a lot we need to understand about how our mind works in cases like this. We certainly understand that our brains can react in unexpected ways when it has to navigate a particularly tangled jungle of information.

Reality As Perceptual Illusion

Isn’t the world, our perceptual reality, a big illusion simulated by our brains? There’s no need to speculate about aliens, computers, the Matrix or someone else to run the illusion, that’s us, our brain is sustaining the illusion we call life every instant of our existence. Everything we call colors, sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, isn’t that all our creation? You can argue that perceptions come from the outside, but what is a wavelenght without the processing of it by our brain? We experience colors, not mathematical functions. And by the way, what is a wavelenght without the mental mathematical model we made of it? We can only experience what we create, if something exists beyond our perception, how can we know it? The endeavor of science to create an objective knowledge of reality is pointless, every model, every theory, every experiment will always be “Human, too human!”, as the title of one work by Nietzsche.


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