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Written by nuncio   
Thursday, 20 May 2010 14:05

I'm always fascinated by articles like this one we published recently about the way in which the brain can be "tricked" into "feeling" sensations from extraneous objects or, as in this case, from virtual reality bodies.

It may seem to you that when you experience a sensation, such as a touch to your hand, you "feel" that sensation "in" your hand. But it's really not as simple as that. You are, of course, "feeling" the sensation in your brain. So, if your brain can be "fooled" into believing that the input is coming from an object such as a rubber hand, you will "feel" the sensation "in" that "hand".

Sorry about all the inverted commas here but this is awkward stuff to frame. I also don't like using terms like "tricked" or "fooled" in connection with the brain. Rather, to me these experiments demonstrate another amazing property of the brain. And one that should certainly be a huge boon to virtual reality enthusiasts. Think of the possibilities: if our brains can be made to feel that they are receiving input from the kind of crude VR bodies available today then there is a real prospect of being able to fully "immerse" ourselves in the virtual worlds of the future.

None of this is as weird as it may, at first, appear. It's another glimpse into the true nature of "self". It shows "self" to be a construct; a very useful one but a construct nevertheless. We are stories that our brains spin for us. Change the parameters and it will spin you a new one.

 
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