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ISCHANGED and PRIORVALUE, do they work off of or trigger.old?

So if you use a before trigger to update values but to make sure they don't conflict with a specific validation rule you put in the validation rule NOT(ISCHANGED or PRIORVALUE != would that work...or does the ischanged/priorvalue not base it's information from the original file but it sees the prior value as whatever the before trigger put into it?
Heres a better way of asking my question

does ISCHANGED based  on the trigger.old record or do they not consider changes made in before triggers to be changes. IE if before trigger updates the close date will ischanged consider that a change OR will it not see the change. Do they compare changes made from the old record and the before trigger??

Does the priorvalue base on the trigger.old record (original record) or whatever value comes in after the before trigger fires?