Mar 10, 2014
The Verdict Is In: We Simply Can’t Tickle Ourselves
Posted on Nov 23, 2013
It is widely known in the scientific world that tickling oneself is an impossibility. But what if you were fooled into believing that it wasn’t you doing the tickling?
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and a few other scientists at University College London came up with the explanation in 2000 that, because our brain can predict the outcome of our movements based on motor commands, the moment we feel anything that matches these predictions, the brain “dampens down its response to those sensations.” This means your brain won’t let you chuckle at your own tickles because it knows they’re coming since it sent the commands to the muscles.
Now, a couple of scientists in Australia decided to try a simultaneous body swap illusion while running a tickle test in hopes of finding a way to dupe the mind into being tickled. Turns out, the brain will not be fooled. New Scientist outlines the experiment:
According to Jakob Hohwy and George Van Doorn of Monash University in Clayton, Australia, their experiment invalidates Blakemore’s ideas about the brain’s dampened reactions. Since in the case of the body swap illusion “the command to move doesn’t result in the sight of your own hand moving,” it should trick the mind into allowing you to be tickled. However, Hohwy and Van Doorn believe that “the brain attenuates incoming sensations anytime we make a movement.” In other words, we can’t outsmart our brains because they’re always one step ahead of us. At least when it comes to tickling.
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi
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