It is fairly common knowledge that human beings have a number of senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and eye sight- all easily discernible and scientifically can be “taken apart” and studied (more or less). While it is widely understood, yet scientifically “unproven,” we have a sixth sense, what this can means varies greatly. According to a new study, however, there is a new sense that has been identified as “Numerosity.”
The study comes from the Netherlands, out of Utrecht University’s neuroscience department. The study took participants and mapped what happens in the brain as an individual is shown a series of number, dots, or objects. It was found that more brain power seems to be used for smaller number and decreases as larger numbers become involved. A similar kind of study was performed on primates, showing that this sense of numbers in space is not a trait solely possessed by humans.
Numerosity has nothing to do with one’s ability for math or other technical fields, per se, but it does allow the human brain to recognize numerical patters in our surroundings. How, evolutionarily, this assisted in our development has not yet been discussed, but one could imagine that being able to understand ‘a few’ verses ‘many’ could be useful.
It seems that scientists have discovered this new sense, even if they are still unclear as to what is really is or how it works, however, it is not the sixth sense that we talk about in everyday terms. The sixth sense is usually associated with the psychic sense, which, basically, refers to insight or connection between all living things, space, and time. There is a lot of wiggle room for interpretation on this, since the sixth sense is also associated with intuition.
While it doesn’t seem readily apparent that Numerosity is, in fact, the sixth sense, it does appear to be a sense. Perhaps this is the first step in recognizing that we have many, many more ways of receiving and processing information that the five ways already identified.
While the definition of the word ‘sense’ is intrinsically tied to the body and the five known senses, it does basically mean a way to perceive external stimuli. This can take on a much broader sense of the word when applied to the different ways that we are able to take in and process information. Numerosity, here, is referring to the external stimuli of object groups in space, which, perhaps, could be referred to as a secondary sense since it needs to first be processed by one of the other five. Even so, it opens the door to identify and broaden our understanding of the senses and the ways in which we interact with our environment.
With this new study, we may be able to start creating new language around how we understand taking in and processing information in the human experience. Now, it would seem, we can say there are perhaps the five senses and the secondary senses, but much of that will have to be debated and discussed by our philosophers and scientists.
What remains is the larger implication of this discovery, there is much more to how we take in and process information. There is much more than our five primary senses and that means opening up the language and scientific inquiry to delve deeper. Now that we have identified Numerosity as a sense, we can open up to a larger discussion of what that means and how we actually interact with the world.
Written by: Iam Bloom