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December 25, 2013

Blind Sight is enough to pick emotions

What if someone says that you don’t need to consciously look at faces (of other persons) to pick emotions on them? Is it really possible for us and if yes then exactly how? Do only faces can express and convey emotions? Does the sixth sense really exists? Is mind reading just by looking at bodies possible?

These are the few basic questions Prof. Dr. Beatrice D. Gelder (a renowned Cognitive Neuroscientist and Neurophysiologist) and her team has conducted an elaborate experiment at Tilburg University to find answers for. What they call this amazing (or “supernatural”) ability to pick emotions without clear visual clues is as ‘blind sight’. It's really interesting!

Faces with emotional expressions

She conducted an elaborate scientific experiment in a lab with a numerous individuals (or subjects) having or suffering from blind sight or blind vision which is a phenomenon in which visual cortex in one hemisphere of brain gets damaged due to stroke which ultimately leads to the deficiency of conscious visual perception or clue collection.

(Affective) Blind Sight or Blind Vision is the residual visual ability in the patients who has suffered damage to their primary visual cortex (V1, striate cortex). They react reliably to the emotional degree of stimuli presented to their blind visual fields but they cannot consciously report presence and properties of the stimuli.

Bodies expressing different emotions

he team found that the patients responded unconsciously by moving or twitching muscles of their own faces to mimic the same emotions when different emotionally charged faces were shown to the eye of patients suffering from the blind sight or blind vision phenomenon. Movements and twitches of their facial muscles were recorded with sensors.

This is a revolutionary discovery about our brain's ability to pick emotions in others. Her work was published by Scientific American journal. Also, a short clip on the entirely experiment was broadcasted in the episode “Is there a Sixth Sense?” of the famous scientist documentary series called as “Through the wormhole”.

Please kindly watch the below clip (link: thoroughly to understand what she and her team tried to reveal or unearth circuits or parts inside our brain that help us to decode emotional clues on faces and bodies of others without conscious visual perception of them.

[Prof. Dr. Beatrice D. Gelder currently works in Maastricht University, Netherlands. She once had written an email to me about this site, commenting as “Very Interesting!”, when she was working in Tilburg University, Netherlands. Know more about her on Wikipedia.]

Related Articles:
1) Basic Emotional Expressions 2) Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints

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