Neuroscientists are exploring profound implications of non-locality ~ the concept that our perceptions of events and sensations are not necessarily anchored to our physical beings in the here and now ~ though further investigation into phenomenon such as the “rubber hand illusion.”
According to ScienceDaily.com:
A number of earlier studies showed that if a rubber hand is positioned such that it extends from a person's arm while her actual hand is hidden from view, and both her real hand and the rubber hand are stroked at the same time, she seems to feel the touch in the location where she sees the rubber hand being touched. This effect and the experienced 'ownership' of the rubber hand is the “rubber hand illusion.”
Now, neuroscientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, are investigating the relationship between bodily self-consciousness and the way touch stimuli are spatially represented in humans. They’ve determined that sensations of touch can be felt and mislocalised when people view “virtual” representations of their bodies.
In their previous research, Professor Olaf Blanke's lab at the EPFL found that the consciousness of one's own body (the sense of self-identification and self-location) can be altered in healthy people under certain experimental conditions, yielding similar sensations to those felt in out-of-body experiences. In this new study, Aspell and colleagues in Blanke's lab used a crossmodal congruency task to determine whether there is a change in touch perception during this illusion.
Such data reveals that brain mechanisms of multisensory processing are crucial for the “I” of conscious experience and can be scientifically manipulated in order to potentially animate and incarnate virtual humans, robots, and machines.
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