I don’t recognize the precise suggest in humans’ evolutionary history wbelow a genetic mutation offered moms an extra collection of eyes in the earlier of their heads, but it’s a offered truth that they have actually them.

You are watching: Eyes in the back of your head

Like the childhood circumstances as soon as I tried to eat an earthworm, and my mom—engrossed in yard work—spun via saucer-sized eyes and also a clump of weeds she was prepared to throw at me if I ongoing through my culinary exploration. I quit, dumbfounded, that through her back totally turned, she knew.

And although that back-head pair of eyes is frequently chalked up to folklore, current research suggests those stories may not be much from the fact.

But first, let’s talk about exactly how some human being deserve to watch without actually seeing…


When I took my initially university psychology course, Dr. Nuguy told me around an astounding phenomenon:

Researchers would take clearly blind individuals—people via no conscious capacity to see—and throw a ball at them. Although this sounds favor a cruel prank, the researchers had actually uncovered that these patients would certainly actually catch the ball.

When the patients were asked later just how they knew/were able to catch something they couldn’t view, the patients had actually no explacountry. They had actually no idea a ball was thrown until it finished up in their hands.

So…what the heck?

Blindsight refers to people who have actually damage to their major visual cortex, staying clear of them from consciously being able to see anything.

However, bereason of other frameworks in the brain, such as the remarkable colliculus (a much less “evolved” area pertained to vision) and also the lateral geniculate nucleus (a space that processes the position and activity of objects), these otherwise blind people are able “to see” particular things. Or fairly, their brains are able to.

Which, can we take a moment to acexpertise, is pretty darn remarkable…

But what about the spots that people through continuous vision are “blind” to? You understand, behind the head?

(Shioiri et al., 2018)


As I began this write-up, it’s widespread for us to attribute eyes to the earlier of people’s (mothers’) heads. And even though we don’t really have actually eyeballs back tright here, the brain does simulate some for us.

Researchers had actually participants come right into the lab where they were surrounded through six LCD screens (see right). Participants then had actually to percreate a visual search task, where a bunch of letters would certainly show up on all the screens, and also the participant would have to determine a details one.

What the participants didn’t understand, though, was that some of the letter patterns repeated. That is, although participants had actually no mindful awareness that these fads of letters (likewise displayed right) were repeating, the brain someexactly how remembered.

Consequently, the researchers found that even though participants believed each trial of the visual search task was distinct, they were nonetheless able to even more conveniently determine wright here the specific letter was “hiding,” also when that letter was out of sight behind them.

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In a feeling, then, the brain creates a non-aware, 360° depiction of the area approximately you. So also though the aware mind doesn’t explicitly accessibility it, the brain’s mental map can still affect our actions (simply like with blindsight).


With Each Other, this research study highlights a variety of points. First, moms (like all of us) execute have these “simulated eyes” for the environment behind them. (And maybe, though it’s not been tested, these mental maps are even more obtainable for moms, particularly once a son is about.) 2nd, tbelow are factors exterior our conscious awareness that influence our thoughts and also habits. And third, you need to examine out the Psychoviewpoint to Ponder area for a fun optical illusion that highlights your own seeing without seeing