When you feel like someone’s watching you, is your mind just playing tricks on you? Or is someone really there — even if you can’t see that person? Dr. Ileana Berman explains the bizarre sensation of being watched:

Have you ever had the sneaking suspicion that someone is watching you? Maybe it hits you while you’re walking out to your car… maybe it creeps up on you when you go down to your own basement to do the laundry.  According to Tom Stafford for BBC Future, that feeling is not only unique — it’s universal.

Not only do most people experience the feeling of being watched, there may be a scientific explanation for the sensation..  One that dives into the more cognitive side of science, rather than the physical. 

Dr. Ileana Berman, Cognitive Science Researcher, looks at a study published in 2013 that focused on a cortically blind’s subject’s experience when being shown photos;  some in which the person’s eyes were ‘looking’ at the viewer, and others with their gaze cast to the side.  Though the subject was blind, the photos of subjects staring elicited an 

Our perception of someone watching us comes from clues… like assumed movement viewed in our peripheral vision or background noise interpreted as a footstep in the nearby distance.  We interpret these clues via our senses and cognitively to register that someone is watching us.  But sometimes, what we perceive is not always as it seems.. And a misfire leads us to feel as though we’re being watched, when we’re actually all alone.