We Really Do Have Eyes in the Back of Our Heads (Well, Sort Of)

You don't just see with your eyes. Serg Zastavkin/Shutterstock

Your mom was right; she really could tell what was going on behind her back.

According to a new Japanese study, there may be some science to the idea of having "eyes in the back of the head."

Researchers from Tohoku University conducted an experiment to demonstrate that people can perceive things "beyond the limits of the visual field." Their results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The team created a display with six panels that covered a 360-degree area surrounding the viewer. Six letters appeared on each panel at the same time.

The viewer was then asked to find a particular letter on a panel, while the time it took to find the target was recorded. After being exposed to the same layouts and patterns, the time it took to find the letters became faster, even if the target was located behind the viewer's field of vision.

"Which shows that visual processing is not limited to the visual field, but extends to a wider field around the viewer," the researchers said in a statement.

The results of the study show that we have representations of our surroundings in our brain that allow us to "look back" without the need for actually turning around.

"In other words, our brain constructs a 360-degree world even though visually we are usually only aware of the area in front of us," the researchers said.

According to the researcher team, the study is important because it's a key to revealing the brain function linking perception and movement.