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First demonstrated over 14 years ago, the rubber hand illusion has proven a valuable tool for investigating how the brain combines information from different senses – including proprioception, the body’s sense of its own position – to create our sense of bodily ownership.

Fifteen volunteers took part in an experiment in which one of their hands was hidden and a rubber hand or piece of wood was positioned on a table before them, oriented in the same direction as the hidden hand, or rotated through 180 degrees relative to it. A researcher then slowly moved their own hand down to 15 centimetres above the rubber hand or wood. Any effects were assessed by recording changes to the volunteers’ skin conductance – a measure of physiological arousal – and using a post-experiment questionnaire.

The volunteers were never touched, yet the results suggest that the illusion was strong when the appropriately oriented rubber hand was in front of them. A second experiment confirmed that the illusion was stronger when the expectation of being touched was present than when it was absent.The study shows that expectation is sufficient to experience a rubber hand as our own, says Costantini. [1]

What we see as “reality” is what we percieve.
What we percieve is what we think.

We choose what to think.
We can change reality. Literally…

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