Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Virtual touching of a virtual body part generates a real sensation of touching

This post was inspired by a highly interesting finding related to an experiment in which the subject person creates a virtual sensory input to a virtual hand that represents her own hand. The popular article is here and the original article "Phantom touch illusion, an unexpected phenomenological effect of tactile gating in the absence of tactile stimulation" of Pilacinski et al can be found here.

It was found that the virtual touching of the virtual hand creates a sensation in the corresponding body part of the subject person, say forearm. This occurs even if the person does not see the corresponding virtual body part. This suggests that more than visual cues are needed.

Consider first the TGD inspired view of sensory perception (see for instance this and a HREF= "">this).

  1. Sensory data at sensory organs is very fuzzy and the building up of sensory experience by pattern completion and recognition is almost a miracle. The process building sensory perception consisting of standard mental images must involve virtual sensory input to sensory organs, in particular eyes.
  2. The sensory input would be communivated from sensory organ to cortex as dark photons (decaying to biophotons) with light velocity along flux tubes parallel to axons. From the cortex a signal to the MB would be sent. After that MB would make a guess about the final sensory perception very different from the actual sensory input. This guess must generate at sensory organs a diffuse sensory signal and must be compared with the diffuse sensory input.
  3. This is achieved if the first guess generates a virtual sensory signal with a reversed arrow of time propagating to the sensory organs and becoming a diffuse sensory input at the sensory organs. The usual sensory processing in the brain would take place but in the opposite time direction. When the difference between virtual and real signal is small enough, the process stops.

    Note that the original model assumed that the virtual signal corresponds to the final percept but this is not the case for this variant of the model and ZEO becomes an absolutely essential element of the model.

  4. At the next step, the virtual sensory signal would be compared with the real sensory input from the external world and the difference would be signalled via the cortex to MB. MB would make an improved guess. The iteration of this process would lead to sensory percept consisting of standardized mental images as pieces.
  5. Dreams would be generated by a mere virtual sensory input coming from MB. Also imagination would rely on this process. Now the signals from the MB would not propagate to sensory organs but would stop at some higher level of hierarchy so that no real sensory experience would be generated.
It is known that intentional stimulation of (say) the skin by person himself creates a considerably weaker sensory signal than the simulation by an external input.
  1. The reason for this would be savings in metabolic energy. There is no need to build intense sensory mental images if the stimulus is already known to be there. This would be achieved by sensing a virtual sensory input from the MB to the sensory organ, which would tend to cancel the real sensory input.
  2. This happens also when one swims in a windy sea. When one returns to the beach, one experiences the sensation of being in the windy sea and the sensation can continue for quite a long time. The explanation is that the virtual sensory input from MB continues but is not cancelled by the real sensory input. Magnetic body would generate a compensating virtual sensory input tending to cancel the sensory input caused by the motion of biological body.
  3. Correlational opponent processing seems to be a more general concept inspired by this phenomenon. Ron Blue has proposed in his correlational opponent-processing theory (see this) that the right and left hemisphere form opponents for each other creating opposite reactions. Magnetic body would tend to generate compensating effect cancelling the effect caused by the motion of biological body with respect to the MB to minimize metabolism. This would in general lead to a habituation.
Consider in this framework the situation in which a person induces virtual sensory input to a virtual body part. The mere intention about producing this virtual sensory input progates to MB which however believes that the sensory input is real (why this is the case?) and sends the compensating sensory input to the real body part. The situation is very much like swimming in a windy sea.

For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.

For the lists of articles (most of them published in journals founded by Huping Hu) and books about TGD see this.

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