In the book of sentences of the Toulouse Inquisition for 1308-1323 there is an entry about the case of the girl Claire Michelet, who "saw with her hands." The case itself and other details have not survived.
In the minutes of the Ghent court of the Inquisition of March 15, 1379, it is reported that the accused Katrin Tauftag "boasted to her neighbors that she was able to distinguish the embroidered pattern with her fingers, without looking with her eyes and without touching the canvas." The investigation made sure that this was a gift of the devil, for which Katrin was deprived of the patronage of the church and put to death at the stake.
In September 1962, all Soviet newspapers wrote about Rosa Kuleshova's ability to recognize colors by skin, blindly. A specially created commission of the USSR Academy of Sciences did not confirm the reliability of the facts, but the possibility of an alternative view was not refuted.
Unreliability of examinations
How much easier it is to do physical or chemical experiments! A drop of acid - hissed, boiled - gurgled. Regardless of the stars, the weather, or the mood of the test tube. It's a different matter to explore the unique abilities of a girl who is not the smartest in the world, pretty eccentric, chatting incessantly about her genius and at the same time prone to hoaxes.
She wants to show herself in the best possible light, but as luck would have it, "today is not in her voice." And she begins to "improve performance", peeping, cheating. As a result, she is declared a charlatan, and further work with her is unpromising.
However, the research did not stop. They were taken up by the special services of different countries.
The main problem was the search for objects of study. Whom to look for? Where? How? Go there - no one knows where …
It is not even known how unique such abilities are. After all, none of us "looks closely" at what, perhaps, we see with our skin. Even if such an ability exists, then catching it through the stream of video that falls on us through normal vision is as difficult as hearing a whisper next to an airplane taking off. In addition, it has been found that long-term preparation is required for a clear perception of signals from skin vision. Moreover, our suspiciousness, imagination …
Dozens of people, closing their eyes, rushed to feel the multi-colored balls of wool and, having “felt” something, announced that they had such a gift. Most of them have not even passed preliminary testing. A small group was selected, the best was considered 11-year-old Vera Petrova from Ulyanovsk. By that time, Rosa Kuleshova's abilities had weakened, and soon she died of a brain tumor.
After the deadlines defined by the laws of different countries, preliminary developments were declassified. Some trends have emerged. Firstly, the alternative vision is manifested and optimized by the simulator best in children aged 9-12 years. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of these abilities are women. Their skin is likely to be more sensitive to light than men. Perhaps, by the way, that's why women tan better.
But more curious facts came to light.
First of all, it was proved that in the skin of the subjects there are no "rods and cones" with which our eyes perceive video images. The nature of the perception of light and color by the skin probably has nothing to do with the optics of the eye.
The acuity of color perception depends little on the brightness of illumination of objects. Some subjects distinguished four working colors (black, green, blue, and red) in complete darkness.
Not only fingers and palms were active, but also other areas of the skin: auricles, feet and other places where acupuncture points accumulate. This explains the introduction of the term "skin vision" and the increased interest in research by Chinese scientists.
Computers to help
Chinese acupuncture is still a zone of obscurity. The points themselves are easily determined using the simplest ohmmeter (probe), but the connections between the points, neither with each other, nor with the brain, nor with diseased organs, are not detected in any way. Likewise with skin vision.
The skin reacts to light, at least with ultraviolet light. The result is known to everyone - a tan. Its chemistry is known - the black pigment melanin is produced. But what causes the body to produce it is unknown!
Research accelerated when Taiwanese scientist Xi Chang-Li proposed the use of electric and magnetic encephalographs (EEG and MEG) in experiments. It was found that the EEG of the brain, which is not engaged in recognizing what it has seen, like looking into emptiness, differs markedly from the EEG of the brain trying to consider something. By the way, such EEGs in skin vision form the third group, which confirms its different nature, which does not duplicate the optical images obtained by the brain with the help of the eyes.
Long-term scientific work with children is always painful. The spread of data they receive is terrifying. Either they are carried away by their unrestrained fantasy, now they are constrained by the desire to say "the right way." Objective EEG data greatly simplified the work, made it possible to use powerful computer technology, but the answer to the question "how does it work?" not allowed.
Spectrum of hypotheses
The idea of the tactile mechanism of perception arose first. Any stain of dye protrudes at least 0.1-0.3 mm on a flat surface. In Braille, used for blind readers, the embossing height does not exceed 0.5 mm. That is, with heightened perception, a lower height can be detected. However, this hypothesis was rejected first, since it did not explain the difference in color recognition. Hypotheses related to the radiation of all objects of nature seem to be more fruitful. Microscopic radiation of different frequencies is produced by everyone and everything.
We see the world with the help of light in a certain frequency range. Our eyes do not recognize the ultraviolet and infrared parts of the spectrum. Skin vision perceives a wider spectrum. It is noted that there is some shift in the infrared zone. In other words, with our skin we can see what is inaccessible to the eye. Therefore, the perception of color is, in principle, different, not like the usual sensations. The brain receives signals from the skin “in a different encoding”.
It is like recording the same sound using different alphabets: Cyrillic, Latin, Arabic, Georgian, and so on - up to Morse code. And the brain needs to adapt (by prior training) in order to "recognize" color as a set of sensations that do not in any way resemble eye perception. Some feel, for example, red as warmth, others as a convex surface, and still others as a combination of these features.
But what is the source of radiation that provides skin vision? Options are possible. Space, sun, stars can radiate. The objects themselves can "glow", at least the same multi-colored balls of wool. But the skin itself can also emit, capturing the reflected rays and acting as a kind of "visual echo sounder".
Research is ongoing. The main thing is that they objectively proved the reality of skin vision. It remains to understand its nature, learn how to use it. Having achieved this, humanity could greatly help a rather large part of it - people who are blind. So far, the experiments are encouraging.