Do you want to test your sixth sense?
Try it now!
Close your eyes, stand in place, and walk around the chair you’re sitting on.
You’ve done it? Have you managed to do it without falling, and without hitting anything too hard?
There you have the sixth sense!
According to recent research from the US National Institute of Health, spatial awareness should be considered a sixth sense, and here’s why.
The consciousness of the body in space linked to a gene
Scientists at the US Institute of Health who specialize in finding the genetic causes of neurological disorders have recently discovered that the body’s awareness in space is linked to a gene.
To reach this conclusion, they worked with two people with mutations in the PIEZO2 gene, who were blindfolded and made to do simple movements, such as walking or balancing their arms and legs.
None of the young men could do it. Even more: they couldn’t take even a few steps without losing their balance and falling. They also had trouble reaching for objects in front of their faces, or being aware of where they moved their arms while blindfolded.
A sixth sense linked to touch but different from it
The evaluations of the patients allowed the researchers to know the importance of the gene studied, and also to discover what daily life is like without the sense of one’s own body.
They first believed that perhaps the gene affected the sense of touch, and that this was the reason for the problems that the patients studied had in completing the proposed tasks.
However, although the two people with mutations in the PIEZO2 gene were insensitive to certain types of shock, their ability to feel pain, itch, or feel light brushing was intact.
For this reason, researchers have ventured that the ability to be aware of the body in space, also called propoception, could be considered a sixth sense; bound to touch but different from it.
As the scientists explain in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Our study highlights the great importance of the PIEZO2 gene and how it affects our senses in everyday life. Understanding its role in this issue may provide valuable clues to a great variety of neurological disorders.