The New Daily
3rd February 2019
The sixth sense explained: How the brain fools you into feeling things you haven’t seen
by John Elder
Researchers have found a short cut in the brain that allows some blind people to navigate the world and react to sudden movements – as if they can actually see what’s in front of them – and to recognise facial expressions. This is a condition known as blindsight.
The pathway also explains how sighted people unconsciously, reflexively respond to a threat they haven’t seen, at least consciously.
This, then, may explain experiences that people ascribe to a “sixth sense” – feelings they can’t otherwise account for.
How the blind can see
Blindsight occurs when a person’s primary visual cortex is damaged by an injury or a stroke, but the eyes are still functional.
The vision loss occurs because the visual cortex can no longer process or receive input from the eyes.
However, the information taken in through the retina is somehow processed elsewhere in the brain. The person can’t see or consciously respond to what’s happening in the world – but the body responds as if the person can see what is in front of them.