Haven’t had much to say here lately, so let’s comment on this.
You might have already come across the “rubber hand illusion”:
It’s a fascinatingly weird example of neuro-somethingorother and brain-oddness.
Basically, you put one of your hands somewhere you can’t see it, and place a more or less realistic-looking rubber hand on the table in front of you. Then, someone touches or strokes the rubber hand, while making the same contact with your own hand where you can’t see it. You’re seeing the rubber hand being touched, and feeling the sensation of being touched – and it only takes a couple of minutes for your brain to decide that it must be your hand it can see there on the table in front of it.
It’s such a strong illusion that you’ll start to feel a response if you see the rubber hand being poked, even if nothing’s happened to your actual hand. The brain sees something happening to what it’s convinced is your hand, decides that this ought to be feeling a certain way, and so induces that expected feeling.
This latest development is new to me, and possibly even creepier.
Apparently, if you do basically the same thing but with your real hand and the rubber hand lying next to each other, both being touched at the same time, the hand also starts to feel like yours. People in this experiment report that they “felt as if [they] had two right hands”.
It’s a precarious illusion, and not one the brain’s stupid enough to fall for too easily – it won’t work if the real and fake hands aren’t both touched at the same time, or if they don’t match. But it’s another example of just how much our brains can be taken in by bizarre tricks, even when we think we know better.