alledgedly sharks can feel a humans heartbeat from a mile away or something like that, and they can perceive electrical signals, makes you wonder how come then they are dumb enough to confuse surfing boards with seals but watever.

In my world there's a population of sharkfolk, with a hammerhead, and like sharks they can perceive electrical signals. Could they be able to ''feel'' the electrical signals that the brain releases as a side effect, and thus could the sharkfolk grow to understand the emotions of humans just by feeling their brains working?

  • $\begingroup$ @ARogueAnt. neurons communicate with chemical signals which releases voltage, oh and the fact that Electroencephalography exists and it's widely used in the medical field $\endgroup$
    – Drien RPG
    Jan 10, 2022 at 18:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ARogueAnt. I assume OP wants the shark to be a swimming EEG machine. With the insane sensitivity of ampullae of Lorenzini this could maybe work even at a distance, with the biggest issue probably being the filtering of all the muscle and heart-related noise. $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2022 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ Behind a layer of bone, they might be drowned out by the rest. If the sharks have the ability to pick-up on such low-level activity then .... The question becomes, can anything tell what emotions are being felt from such activity. It's not as if the shark has an fMRI to tell what areas of the brain are active. (Unless the subject is pinned right next to the shark.) $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2022 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ Related: TEMPEST. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 10, 2022 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ here's some more data agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1029/98RS00748 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4930202 $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Jan 10, 2022 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


Perhaps, sure, why not.

Assuming that sharks are as sensitive as your question indicates, and the hammer-head gives them spatial differentiation:

There's a study from 2016, it seems to be a student-project, more tentative try-it and see rather than with standardised and careful methodology. If you're prepared to just run with it, then you're sure to have a basis for convincing writing.:

The methodology is simply to show slides/video with EEG leads attached to a cohort and to correlate the results.

angry emotional reactions are very clear on the right side of the brain involving this type of theta waves

When [...] sad [is] recorded, there are several effects or reactions to the right side of the back of the brain. There was two waves Delta and Theta reaction. The reaction at the Delta waves was insignificant when compared to the waves of Theta [to sad emotions]. However, Delta still shows the answers where the waves are often associated with men who have a sense of empathy and intuition. Theta waves at sad emotions relate to [...] old memory.

  • Joy produced alpha-waves in the mid-brain

  • Delta and theta occur in shock and high stress situations (perhaps respectively, it's not stated. I'm fairly convinced that subjects might react differently to stress than to shock - It's not clearly differentiated here).


To be clear the frequency ranges related to these Greek letters and the normal state thereof is:

Delta (δ)0.5 – 3 Hz - Sleep, if awake, sense of intuition/empathy.

Theta (θ)3 – 8 Hz - Deep meditation, healing "twilight consciousness".

Alpha (α)8 – 12 Hz - Relaxed creativity, visualisation.

Beta (β)12 – 27 Hz - Alertness, concentration.

Gamma (γ)> 27 Hz - Memory and language processing, ideation.


It would require some degree of individual calibration and motivation.

If your sharkfolk don't really care what emotions humans are experiencing, it's very unlikely to (consciously) happen. If it is desirable for either communication/cooperation, or to give them a competitive advantage of some kind, then most likely they could train themselves to pick up on such things....but there would also be a degree of error, since not everyone keeps their brain functions in exactly the same spots. Especially people who have experienced brain trauma of some kind, but there also tend to be variations in brain activity between right and left handed people, for example, or people who focus more on visual stimuli vs auditory, or other differences. Culture may also affect how emotions develop in the brain.

The brain science of emotion is pretty complicated and there are many details we don't understand yet, but your idea is plausible, especially in a 1-on-1 situation between a sharkfolk and a human who are personally important to each other.


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