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【BBC】为什么总感觉有人在看我?



“You are being watched”。著名美剧疑犯追踪的每一集片头这句话都让人有一种处在被窥探被监视中的惊悚感。米兰昆德拉说过,人的眼光是沉重的负担,是吸人膏血的吻。被人暗中注视的感觉固然不好受,但从科学道理上来说,人之所以会产生被注视的感觉,其实与位于大脑后部的视觉皮层息息相关。具体原因为何?本期小编带你走进“被注视感”背后的科学。


为什总感觉有人在看我?

翻译:杨婧娴

校对:李   煦

导读&笔记:田阳&王瑞

策划:王瑞&王旻彦


What causes that feeling of being watched?

为什么总感觉有人在看我?


本文选自 BBC | 取经号原创翻译

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You feel somebody is looking at you, but you don’t know why. The explanation lies in some intriguing neuroscience and the study of a strange form of brain injury.

有被注视的感觉,但却不明所以?趣味神经科学和对非常形态大脑损伤的研究为你揭秘。

intriguing: adj.  very interesting because of being unusual or not having an obvious answer 非常有趣的,引人入胜的,神秘的 


Something makes you turn and see someone watching you. Perhaps on a busy train, or at night, or when you’re strolling through the park. How did you know you were being watched? It can feel like an intuition which is separate from your senses, but really it demonstrates that your senses – particularly vision – can work in mysterious ways.

或许是在一趟熙攘嘈杂的列车上,或许已是夜晚,或许在信步公园时,你鬼使神差地扭过头去,发现一双眼睛正注视着自己。但你如何知道自己正在被关注的呢?看似是靠一种独立于感官之外的直觉,其实,这说明了感官的运作方式多么不可思议,尤其在视觉方面。


Intuitively, many of us might imagine that when you look at something with your eyes, signals travel to your visual cortex and then you have the conscious experience of seeing it, but the reality is far weirder.

很多人本能地认为,我们视物时,信号传输到视觉皮层,使我们有意识地产生视觉体验,但实际情况比这要奇妙得多。

intuitive: adj. (of people) able to understand sth by using feelings rather than by considering the facts 本能地,直觉地 


Once information leaves our eyes it travels to at least 10 distinct brain areas, each with their own specialized functions. Many of us have heard of the visual cortex, a large region at the back of the brain which gets most attention from neuroscientists. The visual cortex supports our conscious vision, processing colour and fine detail to help produce the rich impression of the world we enjoy. But other parts of our brain are also processing different pieces of information, and these can be working away even when we don’t – or can’t – consciously perceive something.

信息映入眼帘后,传输到十几个不同的脑部区域,每个区域各司其责。很多人听说过视觉皮层,这一大片脑区位于大脑后部,最受神经科学家关注。在视觉皮层的辅助下,视觉体验有意识地产生,负责处理色彩,加工细节,让我们对世界的印象变得更加丰富多彩。但大脑的其他区域也同时处理着不同的信息片段,甚至在我们没有、或者无法有意识地获取信息时,它们也能照常运转。


The survivors of neural injury can cast some light on these mechanisms. When an accident damages the visual cortex, your vision is affected. If you lose all of your visual cortex you will lose all conscious vision, becoming what neurologists call ‘cortically blind’. But, unlike if you lose your eyes, cortically blind is only mostly blind – the non-cortical visual areas can still operate. Although you can’t have the subjective impression of seeing anything without a visual cortex, you can respond to things captured by your eyes that are processed by these other brain areas.

神经系统损伤患者或许能对了解这些机制的运转有所启发。如果视觉皮层在事故中受损,视力就会受影响。如果视觉皮层全无,便不能有意识地产生视觉,这就是神经学家口中的“皮质性眼盲”。但皮质性眼盲不同于失去双眼,它只是近乎全盲,视觉系统中的非皮质部分依旧正常。尽管“没有视觉皮层仍可以看见一切”纯属主观臆测,但眼中之物,经过其他脑区加以处理,仍然能让你作出回应。

cast light on sth: to make a problem easier to understand 使(问题等)较容易理解 


When you’re walking along a dark path and turn and notice someone standing there, there’s probably a reason why you felt it.

步行幽暗路,回头有人伫,怎知他关注?许是脑回路。


In 1974 a researcher called Larry Weiskrantz coined the term ‘blindsight‘ for the phenomenon of patients who were still able to respond to visual stimuli despite losing all conscious vision due to destruction of the visual cortex. Patients like this can’t read or watch films or anything requiring processing of detail, but they are – if asked to guess – able to locate bright lights in front of them better than mere chance. Although they don’t feel like they can see anything, their ‘guesses’ have a surprising accuracy. Other visual brain areas are able to detect the light and provide information on the location, despite the lack of a visual cortex. Other studies show that people with this condition can detect emotions on faces and looming movements.

一些患者尽管视觉皮层受损,无法有意识地产生视觉,但他们仍能对视觉刺激作出回应。他们无法阅读,不能看电影,或是其他任何需要细节加工处理的影像,但若让他们猜的话,他们能够较为准确地定位面前的光斑。虽然他们觉得自己什么也看不见,但“猜测”结果准确率之高让人诧异。尽管少了一个视觉皮层,视觉系统的其它脑区能够探测光线并定位光斑。其他研究结果表明,这些患者能够察言观色,还能感测周身动态。1974年,一位名叫拉里·维斯克兰茨的研究人员针对这一现象提出了盲视”的概念。

coin:v. to invent a new word or expression, especially one that many people start to use 创造,杜撰[新词等]

blindsight: n. [医] 盲视(指有视觉反应但看不见东西,由某种脑部伤害引起) 


More recently, a dramatic study with a blindsight patient has shown how we might be able feel that we are being looked at, without even consciously seeing the watchers’ face. Alan J Pegna at Geneva University Hospital, Switzerland, and team worked with a man called TD (patients are always referred to by initials only in scientific studies, to preserve anonymity). TD is a doctor who suffered a stroke which destroyed his visual cortex, leaving him cortically blind.

时间向后推移,对盲视患者的研究引人注目。从中获知,我们即使不能有意识地看见注视者的脸,依旧可以察觉他人的目光。瑞士日内瓦大学附属医院的艾伦·J·佩格纳和研究团队一起分析了一位名叫TD的病人的状况(译者注:TD为保留匿名,唯有科学研究的病人以姓名首字母指代)。TD是一位医生,深受中风之苦,他的视觉皮层因此受损,成为了盲视患者。 


People with this condition are rare, so TD has taken part in a string of studies to investigate exactly what someone can and can’t do without a visual cortex. The study involved looking at pictures of faces which had their eyes directed forward, looking directly at the viewer, or which had their eyes averted to the side, looking away from the viewer. TD did this task in an fMRI scanner which measured brain activity during the task, and also tried to guess which kind of face he was seeing. Obviously for anyone with normal vision, this task would be trivial – you would have a clear conscious visual impression of the face you were looking at at any one time, but recall that TD has no conscious visual impression. He feels blind.

TD这样的患者屈指可数,所以他参加了一系列旨在调查对于视觉皮层缺失的患者能力范围的研究。受试者需要直视一些面部照片,照片中的人脸有的看向前方,与受试者四目相对,有的则望向一旁,眼神不直接接触受试者。研究过程中,功能性核磁共振仪监测着TD的大脑活动情况,与此同时,他要尝试对他所看的人脸作出猜测。显然,这一任务对于视力正常的受试者而言不费吹灰之力,无论何时,看见的人脸都会有给我们留下明确而有意识的视觉印象。但鉴于TD无法有意识地产生视觉,他便会有眼盲的感觉。 


The scanning results showed that our brains can be sensitive to what our conscious awareness isn’t. An area called the amygdala, thought to be responsible for processing emotions and information about faces, was more active when TD was looking at the faces with direct, rather than averted, gaze. When TD was being watched, his amygdala responded, even though he didn’t know it. (Interestingly, TD’s guesses as to where he was being watched weren’t above chance, and the researchers put this down to his reluctance to guess.)

扫描结果显示,同一对象,知觉不敏感,大脑恰相反。当TD与照片中的人脸目光相遇而非回避时,大脑中负责处理有关面部情绪和信息的杏仁核会更加活跃。也就是说,当他被人注视时,TD脑中的杏仁核产生了反应,但他自己却并不知道。(有趣的是,就观测位置这一问题,TD的猜测并不准确,研究人员将其归咎于不愿乱猜。

amygdala: n. [医] 扁桃,杏仁核


You don’t catch that person on the bus watching you, but you know they are.

公交车上谁在看你?你也拿不准,但你知道总归是有。


Cortical, conscious vision, is still king. If you want to recognise individuals, watch films or read articles like this you are relying on your visual cortex. But research like this shows that certain functions are simpler and maybe more fundamental to survival, and exist separately from our conscious visual awareness.

大脑皮层有意识的视觉仍是最主要的。人、观影和阅读必须依赖视觉皮层。但此类调查研究表明,大脑的某些功能独立于有意识的视觉知觉之外,更加简单,对生存的意义更加重大。


Specifically, this study showed that we can detect that people are looking at us within our field of view – perhaps in the corner of our eye – even if we haven’t consciously noticed. It shows the brain basis for that subtle feeling that tells us we are being watched.

此次研究说明,即使并未特意留心,我们仍能察觉到自己视野内,也许是用余光瞟见,某人在注视自己。这种对他人目光的微妙觉察建立在大脑功能的基础上。


So when you’re walking that dark road and turn and notice someone standing there, or look up on the train to see someone staring at you, it may be your nonconscious visual system monitoring your environment while you’re conscious attention was on something else. It may not be supernatural, but it certainly shows the brain works in mysterious ways.

所以,如果你步行在幽暗的小路,回头发现有人站在身后,或在火车上,抬头发现某人正盯着你看,也许这是你心有旁骛时,无意识的视觉系统对周边环境进行的监察。也许这无关超自然,但毋庸置疑,大脑的运行的确神秘莫测。


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<原文链接:http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170512-what-causes-that-feeling-of-being-watched>

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