Scientists Induce Out-of-Body Sensation  

Monday, August 27, 2007

Usually these sensory streams, which include vision, touch, balance and the sense of where one’s body is positioned in space, work together seamlessly, Prof. Botvinick said. But when the information coming from the sensory sources does not match up, when they are thrown out of synchrony, the sense of being embodied as a whole comes apart.

The brain, which abhors ambiguity, then forces a decision that can, as the new experiments show, involve the sense of being in a different body.

Could you just imagine how weird it would be? Friends of mine and I have played a trick like this on each other before and it's truly a weird experience when the brain tricks itself into thinking the rubber hand is your hand.
In that illusion, people hide one hand in their lap and look at a rubber hand set on a table in front of them. As a researcher strokes the real hand and the rubber hand simultaneously with a stick, people have the vivid sense that the rubber hand is their own.

When the rubber hand is whacked with a hammer, people wince and sometimes cry out.

The illusion shows that body parts can be separated from the whole body by manipulating a mismatch between touch and vision. That is, when a person’s brain sees the fake hand being stroked and feels the same sensation, the sense of being touched is misattributed to the fake.

(via onegoodmove)

The Evolutionary Middleman has a good article up about many experiments with consciousness.

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