24 August 2007

sensor information mismatch

The New York Times did an article a few days ago on the magic shows at the Conference on Consciousness that was held in Vegas this year. Magicians discussed with the scientists that if you create an assumption of a behavior pattern, then your audience will assume something is fact when in truth it doesn't have to be. Today they have an article about how out-of-body experiences can be induced by creating a mismatch between the different sensory streams that our brain uses.

What this means is that even our brains-- though they are very complex and have learned from a lot of experiences as our lives go on-- sometimes still cannot detect scenarios that have the same sensory input as another more common scenario but are actually different. I like the example of the rubber hand. Subjects with their hand under the table and a rubber hand on the table had both hands stroked by a stick. Visually, you would see that the stick is stroking the rubber hand, and since you feel your own hand being stroked, you would assume the rubber hand is your own. The people even shrieked when the rubber hand was hit by a hammer!

(note: NYtimes links are only free for a couple days)

No comments: