Researchers in the United Kingdom and the United States have found evidence in a new study that they can develop feelings of self even without touch.
Studies have shown that if adults lose their sense of touch and “proprioception” (ie, body posture) as adults, they may use visual cues and conscious thought or reasoning to move their bodies to learn compensatory skills.
However, people who have never had touch or proprioception can find faster, more unconscious ways to process visual cues to move and orient themselves.
A research team from the University of Birmingham conducted the study in collaboration with researchers from the University of Bournemouth and the University of Chicago, which was published in Experimental brain research.
The team worked with two people with unique sensory experiences, Ian and Kim: Ian lost touch and proprioception (body posture) at the bottom of the neck after autoimmune reaction to the disease, collectively called somatosensory. As a teenager. Kim had no somatic sensation when she was born and lacked the sensory nerve fibers needed to feel her body.
Researchers are interested in understanding how the human brain adapts to the loss of sensory information and how it would compensate for sensory information if it did not appear first.
There are many questions about how we form our sense of body and self. The body and the self are very integrated. When you close your eyes, you will have a sense of the physical self, but if there is no touch or proprioception, this will not be the case.
Kim’s vision, hearing and vestibular system are all in a special state. She had no touch or proprioception, nor did she. Ian’s situation is very different, because he has these senses and loses them. We are interested in whether a person can obtain visual information that does not involve visual perception and feed it into a certain location in the brain responsible for producing physical sensations. In essence, can you use it to make yourself feel physically when you see it? “
Peggy Mason, Professor of Neurobiology, University of Chicago
To conduct this research, Kim and Ian and age-matched control subjects entered the laboratory at the University of Birmingham and participated in many experiments designed to assess their physical and mental images and their unconscious feelings about themselves. The body in space. These include moving the cursor on the screen to locate landmarks such as fingertips and knuckles, and estimate the “reach” distance (length of the arm) to report the shape and size of the hand.
The study found that there are many similarities between Kim and Ian’s performance in the experiment, and interestingly, there are differences between them. For example, in the hand experiment, Jin’s estimate of the shape and size of her hand was close to that of the control group, which was wider and shorter than the actual hand, while Ian’s estimate was much more accurate.
Principal Investigator Chris Miall, Professor of Motor Neuroscience at the University of Birmingham, said: “We think the difference between Ian and Kim’s responses is related to the visual control they use to navigate the environment. For Ian, this is very important. A conscious process, He learned to use visual cues to continuously evaluate and monitor the environment. For Kim, the process is more unconscious. She still uses visual information, but in a more intuitive and intuitive way.”
The co-author of Jonathan Cole, a professor of clinical neurophysiology at Bournemouth University, added: “You and I are unconscious about the habits and skills, but Ian must always think about exercise.”
These results indicate that if adults lose touch and proprioception in adulthood, they may be able to use visual input and conscious thought to move their body, thereby learning compensatory skills. However, people who have never experienced somatic sensation may be able to develop mechanisms that bypass the lack of sensation and instead use unconsciously processed visual information for motor control.
Mason said: “What we can learn from this is that you may not behave like others, but you will find a way to make a body scheme.” “You will find a way to feel about yourself. Kim has found It’s not the way you or I do it, nor is it the way anyone on earth can do it, but it’s absolutely vital to have this feeling of self. You must be somewhere. We are not in a big bucket Brain!”