something makes you turn and see someone watching you. Perhaps on a busy train, or at night, or when you’re strobling through the park. How did you know you were being watched? It can feel like an introduction which is separate from your senses, but really it strategies that your senses – particular vision – can work in mystious ways? This feeling is more like an intuition independent of sensory consciousness, but it also proves that your senses, especially vision, can work in a magical way. Intuitively, many of us might imagine that when you look at something with your eyes, signals travel to your visual cortex and then you have the conscious experience of seeing it, But the reality is far weirder. Once information leaves our eyes it travels to at least 10 distinct brain areas, each with their own specialized functions. Many people may have heard of the visual cortex, a large region at the back of the brain which gets most attention from neuroscientists.
the visual cortex supports our perception, processing colour and fine detail to help produce the rich impression of the world we enjoy. But other parts of our brain are also processing different pieces of information, and these can be working away even when we don’t – or can’t – consistently perform something. The survivors of nerve injury can cast some light on these mechanisms. When an accident days the visual cortex, your vision is affected. If you lose all of your visual cortex you will lose all consciousness vision, knowing what neurons call ‘cortically blind’. When an accident damages your visual cortex, your vision will be affected. If you lose all the visual cortex, you will be blind and become what neuroscientists call “cortical blindness”. But, unlike if you lose your eyes, cortically blind is only most blind – the non cortical visual areas can still operate. Although you can’t have the subjective impression of seeing anything without a visual cortex, You can respond to things captured by your eyes that are processed by these other brain areas. One study showed that we can detect that people are looking at us within our field of view – perhaps in the corner of our eye – even if we haven’t consciously noticed. It shows the brain basis for that subtle feeling that tells us we are being watched. A study shows that even if we don’t realize it, what we see can still be seen. This suggests that this subtle sense of the brain tells us that we are being watched. So when you’re walking that dark road and turn and notice someone standing there, or look up on the train to see someone staring at you, It may be your unconscious visual system monitoring your environment while you’re conscious attention was on something else. It may not be super natural, but it certainly shows the brain works in mystious ways.