Getting into the body of another

courtesy of World Science

Ever wonder what it’s like to be in the body of another person, psychologically speaking? Sure! Well, now scientists in Sweden have created that feeling in a couple of experiments:

In a first ex­pe­ri­ment, they fit­ted the head of a shop dum­my with two cam­er­as con­nect­ed to two small screens placed in front of the sub­jects’ eyes, so that they saw what the dum­my “saw.” When the dum­my’s cam­era eyes and a sub­jec­t’s head were di­rect­ed down­wards, the sub­ject saw the dum­my’s body where he or she would nor­mally have seen his or her own.

The bod­y-swapping il­lu­sion arose, investigators said, when a sci­ent­ist touched the stom­ach of both with two sticks. The sub­ject could then see that the man­nequin’s stom­ach was be­ing touched while feel­ing, but not see­ing, a si­m­i­lar sensa­t­ion on his or her own stom­ach. As a re­sult, the sub­ject de­vel­oped a pow­er­ful sensa­t­ion that the man­nequin’s body was his or her own, re­search­ers said.

In anoth­er ex­pe­ri­ment, the cam­era was mount­ed on­to anoth­er per­son’s head. When this per­son and the sub­ject turned to­wards each oth­er to shake hands, the sub­ject per­ceived the cam­er­a-wear­er’s body as his or her own.

You can read the full story at the World Science site; the full study is up at PLoS ONE, December 3rd.

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