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Ordinary soldiers have sometimes shown a battlefield sixth sense that has saved lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the U.S. military wants to better understand that “spidey sense” and train troops to tap their inner superhero instincts.

The U.S. Office of Naval Research pointed to sixth sense research about how “humans can detect and act on unique patterns without consciously and intentionally analyzing them,” according to a special notice posted on Feb. 29. It hopes to encourage such intuition in the brains of new soldiers, Marines and other troops with little or no battlefield experience.

But intuition stands apart from step-by-step, time-consuming analytical thinking because it happens both rapidly and subconsciously. A soldier may see, smell or hear something that gets subconsciously organized within hundreds of milliseconds to create the “feeling or impression of a solution” leading up to a sudden insight about the battlefield situation.

The U.S. military also pointed to studies suggesting a sixth sense can arise from “implicit learning” — absorbing information without being aware of the learning process — rather than building up expertise through years of practice. Ordinary examples of implicit learning include bike riding, learning new languages or developing intuition about how other people may act.

Read the rest of the article at Live Science.

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