January 30, 2008

God on the brain

From BBC (and read exciting transcript): Rudi Affolter and Gwen Tighe have both experienced strong religious visions. He is an atheist; she a Christian. He thought he had died; she thought she had given birth to Jesus. Both have temporal lobe epilepsy.

Like other forms of epilepsy, the condition causes fitting but it is also associated with religious hallucinations. Research into why people like Rudi and Gwen saw what they did has opened up a whole field of brain science: neurotheology.

The connection between the temporal lobes of the brain and religious feeling has led one Canadian scientist to try stimulating them. (They are near your ears.) 80% of Dr Michael Persinger’s experimental subjects report that an artificial magnetic field focused on those brain areas gives them a feeling of ‘not being alone’. Some of them describe it as a religious sensation.

His work raises the prospect that we are programmed to believe in god, that faith is a mental ability humans have developed or been given. And temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) could help unlock the mystery.

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November 10, 2007

Distance changes face perception?

illusion,perception,social psychology — thomasr @ 4:14 am

Illusion%20image.jpgThis is  probably one of the best illusions ever! Please do the following: look at the above images from your seat in front of the computer; Mr. Angry is on the left, and Ms.Calm is on the right. Now, get up from your seat, and move back 10 or 12 feet. Who’s the angry and calm now?


It’s said that this illusion was made by Phillippe G.Schyns and Aude Oliva. Cudos to Robert Karl Stonjek for showing us this illusion.

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August 26, 2007

Manipulating Bodily Self-Consciousness

illusion,self-awareness — thomasr @ 9:32 am

virtualreality.jpegHumans normally experience the conscious self as localized within their bodily borders. This spatial unity may break down in certain neurological conditions such as out-of-body experiences, leading to a striking disturbance of bodily self-consciousness.

On the basis of these clinical data, we designed an experiment that uses conflicting visual-somatosensory input in virtual reality to disrupt the spatial unity between the self and the body. We found that during multisensory conflict, participants felt as if a virtual body seen in front of them was their own body and mislocalized themselves toward the virtual body, to a position outside their bodily borders.

Our results indicate that spatial unity and bodily self-consciousness can be studied experimentally and are based on multisensory and cognitive processing of bodily information.

Video Ergo Sum: Manipulating Bodily Self-Consciousness

Lenggenhager et al. in Science

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February 5, 2007

Prosthetic arm with a feel

illusion,neuroscience,perception — thomasr @ 5:34 pm

Prosthetic arm with a feelSurgeons have managed to give an amputee not only a prosthetic arm that moves as directed by her thoughts, but also the feeling of touch — albeit in the wrong part of her body.

When Claudia Mitchell presses an area on her chest, where surgeons re-wired the nerves that used to run to her hand, it feels to her as if her fingers are being touched.

The technique opens the door to additional technologies that could one day relay signals from the prosthesis back to the ‘fingers’ on the chest, allowing an amputee to get sensory information such as touch and temperature from their artificial limb.

Mitchell’s success story was revealed in a press conference last year, but now the details have been published: they are reported this week in the Lancet. (from Nature)

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January 15, 2007

The Illusion Contest 2007 — submissions

cognitive science,illusion,perception — thomasr @ 2:56 am

illusion-a19.gifIt’s time for this year’s Illusion Contest.

The 2007 Contest Gala will be held in Sarasota, Florida (Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall) on Saturday, May 12th, 2007, during the week of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS) conference.

The 2006 annual contest, also held in Sarasota, Florida, was a huge success, which drew numerous accolades from attendees as well as international media coverage. The First, Second and Third Prize winners were Max Dursteler (Universitätsspital Zürich, Switzerland), Peter Tse (Dartmouth College, USA), and Gideon Caplovitz & Peter Tse (Dartmouth College, USA). To see the illusions, photo galleries and other highlights from the 2006 contest, go here.

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October 4, 2006

Illusion contest 2007 — call for submissions

illusion — thomasr @ 4:30 am



*** We are happy to announce the world’s 3rd annual Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest!!*** The deadline for illusion submissions is February 15th, 2007!

The 2007 contest will be held in Sarasota, Florida (Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall) on Saturday, May 12th, 2007, during the week of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS) conference.

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