What enables people to see auras

Some individuals who can see auras actually present the neuropsychological phenomenon known as "synesthesia"

Some people claim that they are able to see other people's auras, a supposed energy field of luminous radiation surrounding a person as a halo, which is imperceptible to most human beings. But such people are often viewed with doubt as there is no way to confirm if they are telling the truth. Some people dismiss the entire concept, thinking it's all sham and those people who claim to see auras are quacks. However, new research not just confirms that the ability to see auras is real but also provides an explanation for it.

The new research, conducted by researchers from University of Granada Department of Experimental Psychology and published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, reveals that individuals who can see auras actually present the neuropsychological phenomenon known as "synesthesia" (specifically, "emotional synesthesia"). In neurological terms, synesthesia occurs due to cross-wiring in the brain of some people (synesthetes). These individuals have more synaptic connections than people who can't see auras. "These extra connections cause them to automatically establish associations between brain areas that are not normally interconnected", explains professor Gómez Milán, one of the study authors. However, the researchers point out that "not all healers are synesthetes, but there is a higher prevalence of this phenomenon among them. The same occurs among painters and artists, for example".

They gave the example of the healer from Granada, Spain, "Esteban Sánchez Casas", known as "El Santón de Baza". Many people attribute "paranormal powers" to El Santón, such as his ability to see the aura of people "but, in fact, it is a clear case of synesthesia", the researchers explain. El Santón presents face-color synesthesia [the brain region responsible for face recognition is associated with the color-processing region]; touch-mirror synesthesia [when the synesthete observes a person who is being touched or is experiencing pain, s/he experiences the same]; high empathy [the ability to feel what other person is feeling], and schizotypy [certain personality traits in healthy people involving slight paranoia and delusions]. "These capacities make synesthetes have the ability to make people feel understood, and provide them with special emotion and pain reading skills", the researchers explain.

In the light of the results obtained, the researchers remark the significant "placebo effect" that healers have on people, "though some healers really have the ability to see people's auras and feel the pain in others due to synesthesia". Some healers "have abilities and attitudes that make them believe in their ability to heal other people, but it is actually a case of self-deception, as synesthesia is not an extrasensory power, but a subjective and 'adorned' perception of reality", the researchers state.

University of Granada

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