How Can We Feel When Someone Is Staring At Us?

You know that feeling you get when you’re being stared at? Out of the corner of your eye, even outside your field of vision, you can just tell someone is checking you out, sizing you up, or trying to make eye contact with you. Sometimes it almost feels like ESP, this ability to detect another person stare, because it often comes at the fringes of our awareness.

Staring

But far from being ESP, the perception originates from a system in the brain that’s devoted just to detecting where others are looking. This “gaze detection” system is especially sensitive to whether someone’s looking directly at you (for example, whether someone’s staring at you or at the clock just over your shoulder). Studies that record the activity of single brain cells find that particular cells fire when someone is staring right at you, but—amazingly—not when the observer’s gaze is averted just a few degrees to the left or right of you (then different cells fire instead).

This specialized machinery in the brain reveals just how important your gaze is when communicating with others. Where you look conveys how you feel and what your intentions are, what you like and what you don’t like, and directs attention to meaningful things in the environment. Further, making direct eye contact is the most frequent and perhaps the most powerful non-verbal signal we exchange with others; it’s central to intimacy, intimidation, and social influence. Learn more here.

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2 Responses to “How Can We Feel When Someone Is Staring At Us?”

  1. Rios Steven Says:

    It seems that is due to the function of our brains.

  2. Teacher Blog: Mr Barlow’s Blog | bloghaunter Says:

    […] posts range over all kinds of science (gravitational waves and LIGO, How can we feel when someone is staring at us?, water flows on Mars, how to get fit….).  Often, the core content is in an image or video, with […]

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