The Midbrain Attention-Orienting and Sensorimotor Control Module as an Neurobiological Basis for Scopesception

Superior Colliculus as a Neurophysiological Basis for Scopesception




This article presents an update to existing literature regarding previous theoretical and experimental attempts to provide a biological basis for the everyday perceptual phenomenon of so-called "scopesception," "scopesthesia" or "staring-detection" — that sudden feeling of being stared-at that compels an automatic orientation of head and eyes to the stimulus. Protruding from the dorsal posterior midbrain, the superior colliculus functions as a sensorimotor processing and orienting module responsive to environmental stimuli. Given the superior colliculus constitutes an ancient visual processing and attention-control center for orienting head-and-eye responses and directing defensive behaviors, neurochemical and network attributes of the superior colliculus and extended circuitry indicate a capable platform for describing the signature components of scopesception. As to what specific mechanisms may register the directed-attention, two lines of reasoning are advanced involving multisensory facilitation/enhancement and the ecological psychoacoustics of subaudible vocalizations. In a clinical capacity, observational decreases of superior-colliculus-mediated saccades (linked to sensorimotor processing) during the therapeutic practice of "eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing" may motivate further etiological insight into biology of trauma and techniques for clinical alleviation of anxiety, hypervigilance and post-traumatic stress.


superior colliculus; inferior colliculus; corpora quadrigemina; scopaesthesia; eye-movement desensitization & reprocessing; multisensory facilitation; sensorimotor; salience network


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How to Cite

Bettinger, J. (2023). The Midbrain Attention-Orienting and Sensorimotor Control Module as an Neurobiological Basis for Scopesception: Superior Colliculus as a Neurophysiological Basis for Scopesception. Journal of NeuroPhilosophy, 2(2).