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The rubber hand illusion

Which information is more important to the human brain: what we see or what we feel? Watch a psychologist trying to answer this question with a simple demonstration.

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. You can also read the transcript.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


I would volunteer to take part in this experiment. I don't know how it feel but I will try to imagine a process here.
I come sit on a chair in front of Larry. He will put a rubber hand beside my hand and a board between two hands. I will curl similarly my hand to the rubber one. Now I can not see my real hand because of the board hiding it. In front of my eyes now is a rubber hand.
Larry will stroke both hands simultaneously. With each his move, I can feel the brush is touching my real hand right in front. When everything is smoothly running well, Larry accidently beat a hammer on my hand. I am shocked and pull my hand back. Fortunately, It was the rubber hand.
Larry will explain to me it was an illusion. He stroked both hands at the same time and same positions, which made the information happening in front my eyes override my brain. My brain was temporarily rewired and adopted to the plastic hand.
My own hand is still intact. Thank god.
That's an awesome experiment.

Interesting experience. The question for me is to what extent our brain can be rewired through visual perception. It is really a little bit creepy with the hammer. But what I'd like to know is whether the volunteers only get afraid of unexpected blow or they really feel pain from the blow even if this pain feeling is very short. To find it out I would volunteer to participate in the expirement)

I have read that mental patients (like scizophrenes) can tickle themselves because they think it is someone else's hand. I remember I was very surprised at the fact.

To know how the brain works exactly, it will always be a great mistery. This video is very interesting.

Thanks for this wonderful video. The psychologist are really doing a great job with this effort on the rubber hand illusion research