Bo Farrell surprised his brother Matt (along with other family members) during a Notre Dame vs. Colgate basketball game on Monday. Serving in the U.S. Army, Bo was deployed in Afghanistan and returned a few months early. Such surprise homecomings are of course packed with nonverbal teaching-moments, one of which is discussed here.
Note that when they are hugging, both the Bo and Matt Farrell's eyelids are closed.
Ninety percent of human sensory input arrives via the visual system. The other four senses - auditory, tactile, taste and olfactory are obligated to "share" the other ten percent. Moreover, forty percent of the mass of the human brain is committed to vision. Therefore when the eyes are closed, a temporary and slight increase in blood flow occurs as well as an enhancement of neural-electrical activity with the four non-visual senses. This temporary change also happens in both cognitive and emotional portions of the brain.
Therefore when a person closes their eyes during a sincere hug (or other forms of affection) their psyches are very much striving to get every bit of emotion out of that moment and interaction. This doesn't occur in non-affectionate hugging (An exception to this may occur when, on occasion, another emotion supersedes that of affection - typically the embarrassment of a public setting or the preoccupation with another pressing matter. However when open-eyed hugs become a consistent pattern - a diminishing of affection has taken place.)
This same sensory enhancement phenomenon holds true for the other senses too. When you close your eyes while eating a favorite dessert, it's not just your imagination it pleasing your palate more - it truly does taste better - because that portion of your brain is functioning a bit more efficiently. This physiology dynamic also applies during smelling, hearing and touching.
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