Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Rubber Hand Illusion
The rubber hand illusion is a now classic example of how our sense of self can be fooled. As the videos demonstrate, the illusion is conducted by hiding the participants real hand and in its place setting up a rubber hand. The experimenter then strokes the rubber hand and the real hand at the same time and on the same finger which after a few strokes creates the illusion that the rubber hand is actually the participants real hand. Once the connection to the rubber hand is established, the experimenter, without warning, will smash or stab the false hand inducing a stress.
The (overly) simple explanation as to why the illusion works is that our brain utilizes multiple channels of sensory input, such as visual, tactile and positional information, to create the perception of self and other. By manipulating this information, the experimenter causes us to believe that an inanimate object is actually a part of our body.
Here is a good layperson explanation from science.howstuffworks.com
Body transfer illusion