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OUT OF MIND » PERCEPTUAL AWARENESS » OTHER DIMENSIONAL » Are ghosts all in the mind? Scientists recreate strange phenomenon in the lab

Are ghosts all in the mind? Scientists recreate strange phenomenon in the lab

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PurpleSkyz

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Are ghosts all in the mind? Scientists recreate strange phenomenon in the lab

  • Swiss researchers carried out an experiment to make artificial 'ghosts'
  • The sensation was re-created by researchers using a robot to interfere with the sensory signals in the brains of blindfolded volunteers

By Mark Prigg For Dailymail.com
Published: 12:25 EST, 29 April 2015 | Updated: 12:42 EST, 29 April 2015








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Neuroscientists have succeeded in creating 'ghosts' in the laboratory by tricking the brains of test subjects into feeling an unexpected 'presence' in the room.
The spooky experiment which conjured up a ghostly illusion in the laboratory has proved once and for all that it's only our mind playing tricks.
The invisible, creepy presence reported by so many people over the centuries is just a set of mixed-up signals in the brain, the researchers say.
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Are ghosts all in the mind? Scientists recreate strange phenomenon in the lab 1415299479227_wps_9_1984_Boston_Massachusetts

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The scientists say the experiment that what some people believe to be a ghostly presence is just a trick of the brain. 'This confirms that it is caused by an altered perception of their own bodies in the brain,' said Professor Olaf Blanke of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland

HOW THEY DID IT 

Blindfolded and wearing ear-plugs, test subjects performed movements with their hand attached to a robotic device. 
Behind them, the robotic device reproduced their movements and touched them on the back. 
When conducted in real time, the participant's brain could adapt and recognize it as their own movement because of the synchronized movement. 
However, when the scientists introduced a temporal delay of just a few milliseconds, the distorting of temporal and spatial perception induced the 'ghostly' feeling.
The sensation was re-created by researchers using a robot to interfere with the sensory signals in the brains of blindfolded volunteers.
Under normal circumstances the brain is able to form a unified self-perception, but lead researcher Olaf Blanke explained that when this malfunctions the brain creates a second representation of its body.
'Most of the research predicts that we cannot tickle ourselves because our brain precisely predicts of one hand, of my hand, touching my body or touching one or another position. 
However, if this is not fully integrated because I'm doing it or if I cannot correctly predict because somebody else were to touch me; in those cases of uncertainty, very often in those cases of double touch, the response is that you feel ticklish or tickled by somebody else,' said Blanke who is leading the research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL).
The findings appear to explain the common experience people have of feeling an unseen presence, even a guardian angel, demon or apparition stalking their movements.
These are frequently reported by people in extreme physical or emotional situations, such as mountaineers and explorers, or those grieving for a lost loved one.
They are also associated with medical conditions that affect the brain, including epilepsy, migraine, schizophrenia and cancer.

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Blanke's team began by analyzing the brains of 12 patients with neurological disorders who have reported having such a secondary representation of their body, in other words a ghost sensation. MRI scans revealed abnormalities with three brain regions involved in self-awareness, movement and the sense of position in space. 
These brain regions together contribute to multi sensory signal processing, important for the perception of one's own body.
The scientists then conducted an experiment to 'trigger' a similar neurological sensation in healthy subjects.
Blindfolded and wearing ear-plugs, test subjects performed movements with their hand attached to a robotic device. 
Behind them, the robotic device reproduced their movements and touched them on the back. 
When conducted in real time, the participant's brain could adapt and recognize it as their own movement because of the synchronized movement. 
However, when the scientists introduced a temporal delay of just a few milliseconds, the distorting of temporal and spatial perception induced the 'ghostly' feeling.
'We built a robot which allows us to distort this signal, which makes it hard - or impossible actually - our robot makes it impossible for our healthy subjects now to predict those signals. 
Are ghosts all in the mind? Scientists recreate strange phenomenon in the lab 1415298845678_wps_1_EMBARGOED_TO_1700_THURSDA

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Artificial 'ghosts' have been conjured up by scientists in an experiment so spooky that two participants asked for it to stop. By having signals mixed up in their brains (shown), volunteers were made to feel that a creepy 'presence' was behind them. They counted up to four phantoms positioned where no-one was standing

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3061244/Are-ghosts-mind-Scientists-recreate-strange-phenomenon-lab.html#ixzz3Ynq9LsN2
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook



'And one side effect of this was, instead of saying that I'm touching myself or that I'm touching with my index finger my own body; subjects reported in those scenarios where we distorted the signal that somebody else was touching them. 
'And this somebody else; actually some subjects reacted very strongly and they reported that not only that somebody else was touching them, but somebody else was also present. 
'So strong, that some of them decided not to finish the experiment,' said Blanke.
The robot creates a disconnect between the movements subjects make and the sensations they were expecting, mixing up 'sensorimotor' brain signals of individuals so that their brains no longer recognized input signals as belonging to their own body. 
Blanke said the system mimics the sensations of some patients with mental disorders or of healthy individuals under extreme circumstances.
The study, published in Current Biology, said that 'simple sensorimotor conflicts induced, in healthy subjects, an experience that shares crucial aspects with positive, first-rank symptoms in schizophrenia'.
Blanke says the main aim of the study is to better understand some of the symptoms of neurological or psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia. 
He hopes the research could lead to a similar robotic system that doesn't induce neurological symptoms, but helps patients overcome such sensations.
'We are very interested in pursuing this line of work to build similar robotic devices based on our prototype that do not induce psychotic symptoms in healthy subjects but a similar robot that could be used to down regulate psychotic symptoms in actual patients.'
Are ghosts all in the mind? Scientists recreate strange phenomenon in the lab 1415299475944_wps_8_an_unamed_participant_tak

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Here an unamed participant takes part in the experiment. The robot made humans feel the illusory presence of a non-existent 'ghost'. The study was conducted on 12 individuals with various neurological conditions such as epilepsy, stroke, migraine and tumours
Such therapies, he says, could include a wearable device that would help neurological patients down-regulate - or reduce - these feelings; in effect a device to reverse the sensations they created in the lab.
'A more future version we are still working on at the moment could be a completely wearable set-up of the device that you have seen. 
So this is something that the patient will have maybe inserted in his clothes; smart textiles in a way.
And should there be strong manifestations in this case, one could provide feedback in a way that is now not optimized to induce such a psychotic state but to dis-regulate or to down-regulate such a state.' 
Two of the 12 healthy participants were so disturbed by the experience that they asked the scientists to halt the experiment, the results of which appear in the journal Current Biology.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3061244/Are-ghosts-mind-Scientists-recreate-strange-phenomenon-lab.html#ixzz3YnqT5YZY
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


Thanks to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/



  

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