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Scientists Create Ghosts, Trick Brain Into Believing What's Not There

By    |   Wednesday, 29 April 2015 06:53 PM

Scientists in Switzerland have tricked the brains of test subjects to create a sense of ghosts in the lab.

A robotic device that touches the subjects on the back induces a ghostly sensation, Reuters reported. The device follows the subjects’ hand movements in its touch, but when the robotic touch was delayed or offset from the subjects’ hand movements, the ghostly sensation occurred.

“Our robot makes it impossible for our healthy subjects now to predict those signals,” Olaf Blanke, leaf researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, told Reuters. “Actually some subjects reacted very strongly and they reported not only that they felt that somebody else was touching them, but somebody else was also present. So strong that some of them preferred not to finish the experiment."

The researchers began by studying subjects with neurological disorders who have reported ghost sensations. Brain scans revealed abnormalities in areas of the brain that process self-awareness, movement, and the sense of position in space.

The scientists then conducted experiments to trigger similar perceptions in healthy test subjects.

Ghostly sensations are associated with conditions such as schizophrenia, and the study was aimed at better understanding such neurological or psychiatric conditions, The Daily Mail reported.

“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,” Blanke said.

He envisions a wearable device that would reduce these feelings in patients.

Blanke’s research was published last year in the journal Current Biology.

Parapsychologist Caroline Watt said the science of studying the paranormal is likely to disappear as neuroscience and psychology advance.

"I think parapsychology will probably disappear – we'll ultimately integrate it with neuroscience and psychology. Even if we find that there is some paranormal experience that cannot currently be understood by physics, I would expect that it could become integrated so that we can make sense of these experiences in physical terms," she told the International Business Times.

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Scientists in Switzerland have tricked the brains of test subjects to create a sense of ghosts in the lab.
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Wednesday, 29 April 2015 06:53 PM
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