As superpowers go, mind reading is probably much more useful – and discrete – than brute strength and web shooters, but surely just as unrealistic?
Not necessarily. New research suggests people who can hear their own heartbeat are more likely to know what others are thinking.
A study by scientists at Angela Ruskin University, published in the journal Cortex, found that participants better able to count their own heartbeats without manually locating their pulses were more perceptive and empathetic when it came to reading other people’s emotions.
Psychologist Punit Shah, who led the research, explains: “An example of this could be if your colleague Michael is aggressive towards Sandra on public transport, your body processes this by increasing your heart rate, perhaps making you feel awkward and anxious, enabling you to understand that Sandra is embarrassed.
"If you do not feel your heart rate increase, it may reduce your ability to understand that situation and respond appropriately. This seems straightforward yet there is almost no scientific evidence for the link between internal sensations and mind reading.”
If the only time you hear your heartbeat is with two fingers pressed hard onto a pulse point, fear not: there’s a chance you can train yourself in “heartbeat perception”.
Shah believes that practising locating our own heartbeats may benefit day-to-day wellbeing by improving our ability to interpret our own emotional state and enhancing our social interactions by better interpreting how others are feeling.