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Create Your Own Phantom Hand

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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People who lose a limb often experience the sensation of still having the missing arm or leg. Phantom limbs, in fact, have spurred a whole line of independent research among neuroscientists.

But it appears that all of us may be  capable of these sensations, even if arms and legs remain intact. If we can conjure a phantom limb just like that, it raises all kinds of enticing questions for philosophers as well as scientists about what exactly constitutes our perception of the physical self. Karolinska Institute researchers report online in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience that they can induce a sensation of a phantom hand in just a short time. Watch this simple experiment here:

 

 

 

About the Author: Gary Stix, a senior editor, commissions, writes, and edits features, news articles and Web blogs for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. His area of coverage is neuroscience. He also has frequently been the issue or section editor for special issues or reports on topics ranging from nanotechnology to obesity. He has worked for more than 20 years at SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, following three years as a science journalist at IEEE Spectrum, the flagship publication for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He has an undergraduate degree in journalism from New York University. With his wife, Miriam Lacob, he wrote a general primer on technology called Who Gives a Gigabyte? Follow on Twitter @@gstix1.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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