Brain stimulation creates shadow person

September 20, 2006

Swiss scientists say they've found electrical stimulation of the brain can create the sensation of a "shadow person" mimicking one's bodily movements.

Olaf Blanke and colleagues at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne say their discovery might help shed light on brain processes that contribute to the symptoms of schizophrenia, which can include the sensation that one's own actions are being performed by someone else.

Doctors evaluating a woman with no history of psychiatric problems found stimulation of an area of her brain called the left temporoparietal junction caused her to believe a person was standing behind her.

The patient reported that "person" adopted the same bodily positions as her, although she didn't recognize the effect as an illusion. At one point in the investigation, the patient was asked to lean forward and clasp her knees: this led to a sensation that the shadow figure was embracing her, which she described as unpleasant.

The finding could be a step towards understanding psychiatric affects such as feelings of paranoia, persecution and alien control, say neuroscientists.

The discovery is reported in a Brief Communication in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Why it's time to lay the stereotype of the 'teen brain' to rest

Related Stories

Why it's time to lay the stereotype of the 'teen brain' to rest

October 30, 2017
A deficit in the development of the teenage brain has been blamed for teens' behavior in recent years, but it may be time to lay the stereotype of the wild teenage brain to rest. Brain deficits don't make teens do risky things; ...

Why head and face pain causes more suffering

November 13, 2017
Hate headaches? The distress you feel is not all in your—well, head. People consistently rate pain of the head, face, eyeballs, ears and teeth as more disruptive, and more emotionally draining, than pain elsewhere in the ...

Uncomfortable sight from an ancient reflex of the eye

October 31, 2017
The eyes are for seeing, but they have other important biological functions, including automatic visual reflexes that go on without awareness. The reflexive system of the human eye also produces a conscious, visual experience, ...

Brain-machine interfaces to treat neurological disease

October 18, 2017
Since the 19th century at least, humans have wondered what could be accomplished by linking our brains – smart and flexible but prone to disease and disarray – directly to technology in all its cold, hard precision. Writers ...

Mental training changes brain structure and reduces social stress

October 4, 2017
Meditation is beneficial for our well-being. This ancient wisdom has been supported by scientific studies focusing on the practice of mindfulness. However, the words "mindfulness" and "meditation" denote a variety of mental ...

Brain disconnections may contribute to Parkinson's hallucinations

September 27, 2017
Researchers have found that disconnections of brain areas involved in attention and visual processing may contribute to visual hallucinations in individuals with Parkinson's disease, according to a new study published online ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover key signaling protein for muscle growth

November 20, 2017
Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered the importance of a well-known protein, myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88), in the development and regeneration of muscles. Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., ...

New breast cell types discovered by multidisciplinary research team

November 20, 2017
A joint effort by breast cancer researchers and bioinformaticians has provided new insights into the molecular changes that drive breast development.

Brain cell advance brings hope for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

November 20, 2017
Scientists have developed a new system to study Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the laboratory, paving the way for research to find treatments for the fatal brain disorder.

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.