Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Debunking the sixth sense

Date:
January 14, 2014
Source:
University of Melbourne
Summary:
New research has helped debunk the common belief that a sixth sense, also known as extrasensory perception, exists.

Each photograph was presented for 1.5 seconds with a 1 second break between them. After the last photograph, the observer was asked whether a change had occurred and, if so, identify the change from a list of nine possible changes. Results showed study participants could generally detect when a change had occurred even when they could not identify exactly what had changed.
Credit: University of Melbourne

New research led by the University of Melbourne has helped debunk the common belief that a sixth sense, also known as extrasensory perception (ESP), exists.

Related Articles


The study, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, found that people could reliably sense when a change had occurred, even when they could not see exactly what had changed.

For example, a person might notice a general change in someone's appearance but not be able to identify that the person had had a haircut.

Lead researcher Dr. Piers Howe from the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences said the research is the first to show in a scientific study that people can reliably sense changes that they cannot visually identify.

"There is a common belief that observers can experience changes directly with their mind, without needing to rely on the traditional physical senses such as vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch to identify it. This alleged ability is sometimes referred to as a sixth sense or ESP.

"We were able to show that while observers could reliably sense changes that they could not visually identify, this ability was not due to extrasensory perception or a sixth sense," he said.

In the study, observers were presented with pairs of color photographs, both of the same female. In some cases, her appearance would be different in the two photographs. For example, the individual might have a different hairstyle.

Each photograph was presented for 1.5 seconds with a 1 second break between them. After the last photograph, the observer was asked whether a change had occurred and, if so, identify the change from a list of nine possible changes. Results showed study participants could generally detect when a change had occurred even when they could not identify exactly what had changed. For example, they might notice that the two photographs had different amounts of red or green but not be able to use this information to determine that the person had changed the color of their hat.

This resulted in the observer "feeling" or "sensing" that a change had occurred without being able to visually identify the change. Thus, the result that observers can reliably feel or sense when a change has occurred without being able to visually identify the change could be explained without invoking an extrasensory mechanism.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Melbourne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Piers D. L. Howe, Margaret E. Webb. Detecting Unidentified Changes. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (1): e84490 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084490

Cite This Page:

University of Melbourne. "Debunking the sixth sense." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114092142.htm>.
University of Melbourne. (2014, January 14). Debunking the sixth sense. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114092142.htm
University of Melbourne. "Debunking the sixth sense." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114092142.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins