People will have, at some point or another experienced the strange, hair-raising sensation of being watched.
Well, it turns out there's a scientific reason for it: our spacial awareness extends beyond just what we can see.
New research from the Research Institute of Electrical Communication at Tohoku University in Japan conducted an experiment to discover how humans perceive movement in a three-dimensional world.
A group, led by Professor Satoshi Shioiri, designed a special six-panel-display that covered a 360 degree space surrounding 55 participants. Six letters appeared on each panel at the same time, and viewers were asked to find particular letters.
The time they took to find it was recorded.
According to Science Daily:
After repeated exposure to the same spatial layouts surrounding the viewer, locating the target object became faster even if the viewer had no explicit knowledge of the repetition.
Results indicate that “representations of surroundings” exist in the brain and can be used to “look back” without needing to turn around - in other words, humans have 'eyes in the back of their heads'.
Our brain constructs a 360-degree world even though visually we are usually only aware of the area in front of us.
Professor Shioiri’s study was published in the journal Scientific Reports. It is the first of its kind to measure spatial ability in this way.