Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

That's Not My Hand! How The Brain Can Be Fooled Into Feeling A Fake Limb

Date:
July 5, 2004
Source:
University College London
Summary:
Scientists have made the first recordings of the human brain's awareness of its own body, using the illusion of a strategically-placed rubber hand to trick the brain. Their findings shed light on disorders of self-perception such as schizophrenia, stroke and phantom limb syndrome, where sufferers may no longer recognize their own limbs or may experience pain from missing ones.

Scientists have made the first recordings of the human brain's awareness of its own body, using the illusion of a strategically-placed rubber hand to trick the brain. Their findings shed light on disorders of self-perception such as schizophrenia, stroke and phantom limb syndrome, where sufferers may no longer recognize their own limbs or may experience pain from missing ones.

Related Articles


In the study published today in Science Express online, University College London's (UCL) Dr Henrik Ehrsson, working with Oxford University psychologists, manipulated volunteers' perceptions of their own body via three different senses - vision, touch and proprioception (position sense).

They found that one area of the brain, the premotor cortex, integrates information from these different senses to recognize the body. However, because vision tends to dominate, if information from the senses is inconsistent, the brain "believes" the visual information over the proprioceptive. Thus, someone immersed in an illusion would feel, for example, that a fake limb was part of their own body.

In the study, each volunteer hid their right hand beneath a table while a rubber hand was placed in front of them at an angle suggesting the fake hand was part of their body. Both the rubber hand and hidden hand were simultaneously stroked with a paintbrush while the volunteer's brain was scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

On average, it took volunteers 11 seconds to start experiencing that the rubber hand was their own. The stronger this feeling, the greater the activity recorded in the premotor cortex.

After the experiment, volunteers were asked to point towards their right hand. Most reached in the wrong direction, pointing towards the rubber hand instead of the real hidden one, providing further evidence of the brain's re-adjustment.

Dr. Henrik Ehrsson says: "The feeling that our bodies belong to ourselves is a fundamental part of human consciousness, yet there are surprisingly few studies of awareness of one's own body."

"Distinguishing oneself from the environment is a critical, everyday problem that has to be solved by the central nervous system of all animals. If the distinction fails the animal might try to feed on itself and will not be able to plan actions that involve both body parts and external objects, such as a monkey reaching for a banana.

This study shows that the brain distinguishes the self from the non-self by comparing information from the different senses. In a way you could argue that the bodily self is an illusion being constructed in the brain."

Disorders such as schizophrenia and stroke often involve impaired self-perception where, for example, a woman might try to throw her left leg out of bed every morning because she believes the leg belongs to someone else. Misidentification or unawareness of a limb arising from damage to the premotor cortex from a stroke is not uncommon.

Phantom limb syndrome is a disorder which can arise after amputation. Remedies that trick the brain into believing the limb has been replaced, for example by using a mirror to reflect the opposite healthy limb onto the amputated limb, exploit the brain's mechanism of self-perception.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University College London. "That's Not My Hand! How The Brain Can Be Fooled Into Feeling A Fake Limb." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040702093052.htm>.
University College London. (2004, July 5). That's Not My Hand! How The Brain Can Be Fooled Into Feeling A Fake Limb. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040702093052.htm
University College London. "That's Not My Hand! How The Brain Can Be Fooled Into Feeling A Fake Limb." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040702093052.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Suicide Rates Up For Young Women In U.S.

Suicide Rates Up For Young Women In U.S.

Newsy (Mar. 6, 2015) According to a report from the CDC, suicide rates among young women increased from 1994 to 2012 while rates among young men have decreased. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 3, 2015) Super Bowl champions Sidney Rice and Steve Weatherford donate their brains, post-mortem, to scientific research into repetitive brain trauma. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Newsy (Mar. 3, 2015) Researchers found an abnormal protein associated with Alzheimer&apos;s disease in the brains of 20-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins