Why not tickle when you tickle yourself?

Perhaps the most amazing paradox of the human mind is the impossibility of tickling your own body. You can do this experience at home. Just pick up a bird's feather and take off your shoes. Arrange in the lotus position and start this simple procedure. When you try to tickle your feet yourself, it is unlikely that this will cause you a convulsive laugh. But if you ask someone else to do the same procedure, your reaction will change radically. Why is this happening?

The question of impossibility to tickle ourselves independently in the old days was acute in the scout camps somewhere near the fire. There is nothing surprising in the fact that this phenomenon interested the learned men. According to the Australian neurophysiologist George van Doorn, this topic is related to the fundamental issues of self-awareness. Surprisingly, scientists in their experiments on the personality and overcoming the natural barriers of consciousness are ready to take advantage of the most exotic methods.

How did the scientific interest in this issue arise?

Every movement created by the body of a person is duplicated by certain sensations. However, the brain does not react to small physical contacts, otherwise our life would be comparable to constant combat readiness. Hundreds of times a day we accidentally touch the palm of our hands to some parts of our body, but we do not attach any importance to this. And all because the brain perfectly distinguishes the importance of touch. So, your own body does not harbor any threat. Another thing, sudden physical contact with a stranger. Such a perfect form of self-knowledge can never be possessed by artificial intelligence. But the man perfectly mastered this complex mechanism of self-control, and tickling once again confirms this.

Contrast in sensations

In experiment with a goose feather and tickling of the feet, we see a striking contrast between the sensations. No matter how we try to cause the tickle ourselves, in fact instead of wild laughter we will only get a weak semblance of a crooked smile. This is said by Johann Gutenberg University staffer Jennifer Wyndt. One of the first to study this phenomenon is the Saru-Jane Blakemore University College employee. The British wondered how the brain distinguishes between manipulating the body - the master himself or the stranger?

Experiment with tickling and brain scanning

During the experiment, the volunteers did the same simple actions: first they tickled themselves, and then they let it do to others. Dr. Blakemore scanned the brains of participants in both cases, and then performed a comparative analysis. When people tickle themselves, the cerebellum is not difficult with an accuracy of 100 percent to predict hand movements. This is not surprising, because the brain itself gives commands to the limbs. Then the corresponding signal enters the motor zone of the cortex, which is responsible for processing tactile sensations. When the expected and produced movements completely coincide, the brain reduces its activity, and the volunteers feel only a slight irritation.

Is it possible to outwit the mind?

Now we understand the mechanism by which the brain distinguishes who produces the movements. When another person tickles you, the cerebellum can never predict what its manipulations will be. That is why our sensations are so intense, because the activity of the brain does not decrease when the expected and real signals do not coincide. After the completion of the experiment and the processing of the results, Dr. Blakemore had a logical question: is it possible to outwit the mind? The expert created a simulated movement of the palm mechanism. So the second part of the experiment began, during which the volunteers had to move the lever, propelling the sponge that slid along their palms. In some cases, the touch of the material was synchronized with the actions of the participants, while in others it happened with a slight delay. As a result, it turned out that the more delay in synchronization of actions, the more intense were the sensations of the subjects. The expert believes that this was made possible by the discrepancy between the prognosis given by the cerebellum.

Other similar experiments

Subsequently, other neurophysiologists, inspired by the two-round experiment of the Englishwoman, began to produce similar experiments. In the course of these studies, many interesting nuances were revealed. For example, the fact that a person can tickle himself with the help of magnetic stimulation of movements (in this case the hand can tickle the leg in addition to the will of the subject). Unfortunately, the success of this method can be considered the only one of its kind. All other similar experiments culminated in complete failure.

Going beyond the limits of consciousness

For example, George van Doorn tried to apply the effect of suggestion in his experiment. The Australian researcher used video glasses, which allowed participants to see the eyes of the experimenter himself. Curiously, before the beginning of the experiment, van Doorn inspired the participants to the idea that they are outside their own body. But even going out of consciousness did not help the participants to deceive their own brains. The gradual synchronization of their movements with the actions of the experimenter, creates the illusion that the participant is in the body of the researcher.

Experimental failure

However, initially, Dr. van Dorn supposed that the subjects will see with his eyes and understand that they are in their own body. When people reached the state of "out-of-body" illusion, they had to move the lever, which activated the mechanism responsible for tickling. The researcher realized that he was mistaken, as soon as the first results were obtained. An intensive effect was not observed, which means that you can never tickle yourself, even if you exchange with the neighbors. Also, scientists found that it is impossible to tickle themselves in a dream when a group of volunteers practiced lucid dreams. Scientists for this experience were inspired by the science fiction film "The Beginning".

Patients with a split personality

Each of these experiments looks, at least, strange, but the study of the mechanism of self-tickling has its practical application. What is beyond the strength of an ordinary person, under the power of a schizophrenic patient. A person with a split personality can tickle himself, because his brain is in absolute certainty that someone else is doing it. Perhaps the ability to self-chatter in patients with schizophrenia is one of the side effects. In this case, the knowledge of the neural processes occurring in the head of healthy people will help to learn more about the nature of disruptions in brain activity that cause problems of identifying authorship of movements in mentally ill patients.

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