Scientists discover a (true) sixth sense

From an early age, the five senses with which we are born endowed are taught and explained. Popularly, to women, one more is added, the sixth, which is not really a sense, but more an intuition. According to new studies, humans, in general, will be able to count on this sixth sense.

Although it is not used by most people, there is a possibility to learn.

Human beings have five senses known as sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. These allow people to perceive the environment and provide them with capabilities that allow them to survive in that environment. However, blind people, for example, in the absence of one of the senses, refine the others and, apparently, a sixth that we did not know existed.

According to two new studies, people can explore a sixth sense and learn to orient themselves without even seeing their surroundings. More than that, studies reveal that it's only a matter of time before people, in general, figure out how to use their sixth sense.

People use echolocation passively all the time.

Lore Thaler revealed her doctorate and psychology professor at Durham University, adding that, when a person enters a room, they intuitively perceive whether the space is small or large, whether it has furniture, among other elements. At that moment, the person is basing his intuition on reflexes and echoes.

Like a blind person – who, for example, steps on objects to perceive his surroundings – humans can take advantage of the sound waves that a snap of fingers creates to orientate themselves, for example. According to Thaler, even people without any training can learn to use said echoes to determine the shape, texture or size of an object.

Dolphin echolocation

Echolocation: The acquired meaning

In one of the new studies, Thaler's team tested whether people can actually learn echolocation, used, for example, by dolphins, when they encounter waters that are too turbid, making them unable to locate themselves. Participants had 20 training sessions (two per week for 10 weeks). Later, they tried to use the new ability – the sixth sense – to identify the size of an object and its own orientation in the laboratory.

We were a wide age group – 21 to 79 years old – and we included both sighted and blind people, and they all learned.

Revealed Thaler.

Having included blind people in the study, they saw their active sensory capacity increased, as well as the ability to move independently, improving their well-being.


Blind people have a much more refined sixth sense

In a second study, 15 participants without training in echolocation were gathered. From computers, sound waves similar to the roar of bats as they fly through the darkness were sent. Then, they were asked if a cylinder, which they could not see, was stationary or in motion; most participants knew the answer.

Therefore, according to Miwa Sumiya, PhD and responsible for this second study, people understand the technique as they interact with their environment.

In conclusion, blind people have an almost innate capacity for echolocation. This is because, since the human brain is predisposed to use vision, blind people rely on the other senses – including the sixth – to explore their surroundings.

I believe early humans were highly auditory and probably used echolocation. Most of human existence took place without artificial light, so we spent a lot of time in the dark. We spent a lot of time in caves and had to know what was around us to avoid threats and predators. We can hear in the corners much more easily than we can see around us, and we can hear through the foliage much more easily than we can see through it.

Said the founder of World Access for the Blind, Daniel Kish.

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