Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is this my finger? Sensory illusion study provides new insight for body representation brain disorders

Date:
September 22, 2013
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
People can be easily tricked into believing an artificial finger is their own, shows a new study. The results reveal that the brain does not require multiple signals to build a picture body ownership, as this is the first time the illusion has been created using sensory inputs from the muscle alone.

Hand. People can be easily tricked into believing an artificial finger is their own. New results reveal that the brain does not require multiple signals to build a picture body ownership.
Credit: © George Dolgikh / Fotolia

People can be easily tricked into believing an artificial finger is their own, shows a study published Sept. 23 in The Journal of Physiology. The results reveal that the brain does not require multiple signals to build a picture body ownership, as this is the first time the illusion has been created using sensory inputs from the muscle alone.

Related Articles


The discovery provides new insight into clinical conditions where body representation in the brain is disrupted due to changes in the central or peripheral nervous systems e.g. stroke, schizophrenia and phantom limb syndrome following amputation.

Professor Simon Gandevia, Deputy Director of Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), says: "It may seem silly to ask yourself whether your index finger is part of your body. However, our current findings demonstrate that this question has led to important insights into key brain functions.

"These findings could lead to new clinical interventions where the addition or the removal of specific sensory stimuli is used to change someone's body image."

In the experiment, subjects held an artificial finger with their left hand that was located 12 cm above their right index finger. Vision was eliminated and anaesthesia was used to numb the skin and remove feelings of joint movement. When the artificial finger and the right index finger were moved synchronously, subjects reported they were holding their own index finger: the brain incorrectly incorporated the artificial finger into its internal body representation.

The human brain uses sensory signals to maintain and update internal representation of the body, to plan and generate movements and interact with the world. The study gives new understanding as to how the brain decides what is part of our own body and where it is located. Contrary to previous theories which used multiple sensory inputs including touch and vision, these results demonstrate that messages coming from muscle receptors are enough to change the internal body representation.

The team additionally found a new type of sensory 'grasp illusion' in which perceived distances between index fingers decreases when subjects hold an artificial finger. This implies that the brain generates possible scenarios and tests them against available sensory information.

Professor Gandevia says: "Grasping the artificial finger induces a sensation in some subjects that their hands are level with one another, despite being 12 cm apart. This illusion demonstrates that our brain is a thoughtful (yet at times gullible!) decision maker: it uses available sensory information and memories of past experiences to decide what scenario is most likely (i.e. 'my hands are level')."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Hιroux M, Walsh L, Butler A and Gandevia S. Is this my finger? Proprioceptive illusions of body ownership and representation. The Journal of Physiology, 2013 DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2013.261461

Cite This Page:

Wiley. "Is this my finger? Sensory illusion study provides new insight for body representation brain disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130922205931.htm>.
Wiley. (2013, September 22). Is this my finger? Sensory illusion study provides new insight for body representation brain disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130922205931.htm
Wiley. "Is this my finger? Sensory illusion study provides new insight for body representation brain disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130922205931.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. 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