Scientists Report Mental ‘Body-Swapping’

By | December 3, 2008

The illusion of body-swapping — making people perceive the bodies of mannequins and other people as their own — has been achieved by Swedish neuroscientists.

http://www.nypl.org/press/2007/images/ArthurTress.jpgIn one experiment, the team fitted the head of a mannequin with two cameras connected to two small screens placed in front of volunteers’ eyes, so that they had the same view as the mannequin.

When the mannequin’s camera eyes and a participant’s head were directed downwards, the participant saw the mannequin’s body where the person would normally have seen their own body.

The researchers created the illusion of body-swapping by touching the stomach of both the mannequin and the volunteer with sticks. The person saw the mannequin’s stomach being touched while feeling (but not seeing) a similar sensation on their own stomach. As a result, the person developed a strong belief that the mannequin’s body was actually their own.

“This shows how easy it is to change the brain’s perception of the physical self. By manipulating sensory impressions, it’s possible to fool the self not only out of its body but into other bodies, too,” project leader Henrik Ehrsson, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said in a news release. … – washpost

Out of body experiences are brain malfunctions. Perhaps fun if you experience one in the right state of mind. This might make an awesome game.

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