There is a biological phenomenon is known as gaze perception that you may be all too familiar with.
Picture this: You are at a coffee shop simply scrolling through your phone and suddenly you feel it. It’s that prickly feeling where you just know...someone is staring. And whether you know them or not, it always feels like a creepy sixth sense.
Well, science says...it is your sixth sense.
Neurological studies have found that the brain cells which initiate this response that you know you are being stared at are very precise. If someone turns their gaze off of you by turning just a few degrees to their left or right, that eerie feeling quickly fades. Scientists from an established study suggest that a complex neural network is behind gaze detection.
We also know that there are ten distinct brain regions are involved with human sight, and there may be more. The visual cortex is the main contributor. This is a large area at the back of the brain, which supports many important aspects of sight. But other areas, such as the amygdala, which registers threats, are thought to be involved with gaze detection.
We are just sensitive to the gaze of others. When another person changes the direction of their attention, we automatically follow their gaze.
Is it our innate sense of being predators to feel changes in our environment?
Historically, it has to do with more than that...it also has to do with the cooperative and social nature of humans and how we’ve depended on one another throughout our history and development and even formed beliefs on the gaze of someone else.
These beliefs even led to the famous evil eye.
The ancients believed that the evil eye was a curse cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they were unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury.
People around the world ward off this evil eye in various ways. Some use eye charms to protect against the evil eye as necklace or bracelet, for instance. In Turkey, these little charms are made out of blue glass and resemble an eye.
In Jewish cultures, parents use a red string to fend off the evil eye. For instance, sometimes it's tied around a crib bar or the stroller handle for their baby.
Some even make hand gestures. One such gesture is the mano cornuto, which is just a fist with the index and pinkie extended (the horned hand). Point your hand down when making this gesture. Some Italians carry a little red horn (corna) by wearing it or keeping it on a keychain, (the horn is worn in place of making the horned hand sign).
Whatever you do, your sixth sense will let you know when someone’s got their gaze on you so perk up if you see, or rather, feel anything.