Scientists create an out-of-body experience using neuroscience

December 3, 2008

Stockholm (ChattahBox) — Students at Karolinska Institute, Stockholm faced a mannequin in a ‘body swap’ test to experience the illusion that a mannequin or another person’s body is their own body. The new study from the nuero-scientists in Stockholm revealed how they got volunteers wearing virtual reality goggles to experience the illusion of swapping bodies with a mannequin and a real person.

The team conducted an experiment where the team fitted the head of a mannequin with two cameras connected to two small screens placed in front of a volunteers’ eyes, so that they had the same view as the mannequin. When the head of the volunteer and mannequins head were directed downward, the volunteer saw the mannequin’s body instead of his own. The researchers also created the illusion of body-swapping by touching the stomach of both the mannequin and the volunteer with sticks. The volunteer felt similar sensation on his stomach when the mannequin’s stomach was touched.

“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.

The experiment worked even when the two people belonged to two different sexes. The research was published online Wednesday in the journal PLos One. It is being perceived as an important research in developing virtual reality applications and in robot technology.


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