Experts from the United States set out to find out whether a person is capable of seeing their own hands in complete darkness and wearing a light-tight bandage over their eyes, without using their physical vision and relying only on the unconscious brain activity.

Scientists tried to find out how often and under what conditions people can see a faint silhouette of their own hands, even when there is complete darkness and the eyesight is not used at all.

The experiment

As reported by Eurekalert, the experiment involved 129 people. Each of them was required to wear two different types of bandages. The first type blocked the light completely, and the second one – almost completely, which was required to study the perception of moving objects in low light conditions.

Then each participant was asked to hold their own hand in front of their eyes and describe the feeling. As it turned out, some of the subjects saw the vague silhouette of their hands, despite the fact that the bandages on their eyes completely blocked their vision.

These results could be attributed to errors in the experiment, but, according to the scientists, this assumption is not able to explain why the participants who received the bandages that let a little light in saw their hands more often than those who got the completely opaque ones.

After going through the various options and repeating the experiment several times with different groups of subjects, the researchers came to the conclusion that the probability to “see” in complete darkness was associated with the expectations of the participants.

The researchers also put some of the participants of the experiment in a completely dark room and there the experiment was repeated with the use of a special infrared system that monitored the eye movements of the subjects.

These observations showed that if the participants had a foreign object before their eyes, such as someone else’s hand or a cardboard silhouette of a hand, they did not see anything at all, and their eyes do not move after the object.

Moreover, the subjects who were told that they were in a poorly illuminated room could see their hands more often than those who were aware that the room had no light at all.

For the purity of the experiment, the scientists invited a person whose different sensations are mixed with each other, a so-called synesthete. Lindsay Bronnenkant, an assistant working in the laboratory of the University of Rochester, accepted this role.

The phenomenon of synesthesia

Each letter and number for Bronnenkant has its special color. During the experiment, she described not just a fuzzy shadow, but a complete silhouette in the poor light.

Other synesthetes who took part in the experiment spoke about similar feelings. They managed to see the movements of their hands in the dark more clearly, claiming to have distinguished all the fingers, not just vague outlines of hands.

Besides, observing the eye movement of synesthetes showed differences from the eye response of the average people: their eyes followed the hand in the dark as smoothly as if it was visible to them.

According to the researchers, the phenomenon of “false vision” showed in the experiment can help better understand how the human brain perceives the world through the mental and physical sensations and organizes the information from different senses.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Raju

    It is possible to see everything with blidfolded / eyes closed (between age group of 6-15) with the the help of midbrain activation.

  2. tom

    Could the test subject in the poor light room be absorbing a little light allowing them to see their hand as vaguely as described or another thinking is that our brain is in tune with our body so when we move our hands we know where they are e.g grab your phone from behind your back, you aren’t looking at it but youknow where it is and can guide your hand without sight to pick it up

  3. Ursula McIntosh

    Interesting because if your eyes are closed your mind is still picking up truth, not anything false. The mind is photogenic an it’s the truth regardless. Sleeping in the dark an being by self or with your mutual partner depicts what you might encounter while seeing images. The mind is extremely awesome an with severe high tech programming so to speak. Interesting how you can look into the core of the sun an see a ball an glow of fire as well as seeing in the dark. Perfect vision is excellent but if it’s not perfect vision what truth would be in that. I would study blind people an see how they perceive truth of being in darkness, the retina an the health of the pupils an so fourth I’m sure has no barring on the dark an that one.

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