By James Paladino ( | First Posted: Oct 23, 2012 07:35 PM EDT

A plastinated human body exhibit is seen during a media viewing for the exhibition "The Human Body" in Ostend (Photo : Reuters)

A Northwestern University study based on 26 psychological studies conducted between 1978 and 2010 suggests that a human's subconscious mind can detect non-sensory stimuli seconds before any change in an environment occurs.

Study author and research associate in the Visual Perception, Cognition and Neuroscience Laboratory Julia Mossbridge presents an example: If an employee was playing a game on their computer instead of working and were "tuned into your body, you might be able to detect [that your boss is about to walk in the door] between two and ten seconds beforehand and close your video game."

She adds, "You might even have a chance to open that spreadsheet you were supposed to be working on. And if you were lucky, you could do all this before your boss entered the room."

ABC News reports that noticeable changes were detected in the skin, brain waves, and heart during this two-to-ten second interval.

"Physiological measures of subconscious arousal, for instance, tend to show up before conscious awareness. What hasn't been clear is whether humans have the ability to predict future important events even without any clues as to what might happen," says Mossbridge.

The researcher argues that the phenomenon does not fit into our current understanding of biology, but that "explanations related to recent quantum biological findings could potentially [explain the findings]. It's anticipatory because it seems to predict the future physiological changes in response to an important event without any known clues, and it's an activity because it consists of changes in the cardiopulmonary, skin and nervous systems."

Few studies have been conducted on the topic of "precognition," but the concept has inspired countless pieces of fiction throughout history and captured the imagination of people worldwide.

The study can be found in the scientific journal Frontiers in Perception Science.

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