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monkeysan's picture
Joined: 2010-01-04

[B]Score one for Azeroth and kin. A computer science researcher has shown that, at least if you have a rubber hand, the virtual world is more compelling than the real thing.[/B]

The rubber hand illusion is one of those classic cognitive science experiments that makes the human brain seem not only amazing but fairly creepy as well. When a false hand is placed in front of a subject who can't see their own real hand, and both are stroked at the same time, eventually the subject will start to feel sensation in the rubber hand — even when only the fake hand is touched.

Put that rubber hand in a virtual world, though, and it turns out you don't even need to stroke subjects before they start reacting as if it were their own.

Anthony Steed, a researcher at University College London, asked 20 volunteers to play some basic computer games inside a virtual world, using an avatar. At the same time, he hooked his subjects up to a system that monitored their muscle movements and nerve impulses. No preconditioning foreplay was applied to the subjects' real limbs, and at a random moment in the game, a virtual lamp was made to fall over on the player's 'hands.'

According to the [URL=http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527516.000-amputees-could-get-a-helping-hand-in-the-virtual-world.html]New Scientist[/URL]:

Most made gestures with their arm suggesting they were trying to move it out of the way - despite there being no real risk. In a follow-up questionnaire, volunteers acknowledged they had behaved as if the virtual hand were their own.

When they repeated the experiment using an arrow to represent the arm, there was no empathic response. "The strength of the rubber hand illusion depends critically on the representation of the hand," said Steed.

[URL=http://www.gameculture.com/2010/03/22/rubber-hands-feel-real-faster-virtual-worlds]read more[/URL]


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