LISTEN TO YOUR GUT--THAT SIXTH SENSE IS TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING

Published on: March 23, 2005

You really do have a "sixth sense"! But it doesn't function like the one in the famous Bruce Willis movie.

It's usually called a "gut feeling," and scientists now believe it is rooted deeply in the brain and gives you the ability to subconsciously sense trouble ahead.

Researchers say it may explain why some people -- more attuned to their instincts -- have better survival mechanisms.

For example, during the recent catastrophic tsunami, aboriginal people headed for higher ground just before the disaster.

An early warning system may exist in the anterior cingulate cortex -- an area of the brain involved in processing complex information, according to a report by psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis. Their findings were recently published in the journal Science.

Abnormal activity of the anterior cingulate cortex has been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to William J. Gehring, associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.

"It's been shown that there is too much activity in this area.

There is a general sense that things are going wrong, when actually they are not."

Eventually, scientists hope their study of the sixth sense will lead to a better understanding of mental illness and possible new treatments.