Friday, December 9, 2005

Beauty in the Brain of the Beholder

Do you know anyone who actually likes his/her body? I myself find it easier to be appreciative of others physically than of myself. Science is coming closer to find the reason for this and hopefully provide a solution for those with poor self image.

Researchers in the UK have identified the part of our brain that processes perceptions about the size and shape of our body parts.

As they report in the journal PloS Biology, Ehrsson and his team identified the brain area by employing a technique that produces an effect known as the "Pinocchio illusion." It involves vibrating the skin over the tendons in a joint, which produces the illusion that the joint is bending or extending depending on where the stimulus is placed. For example, a person who placed his finger at the end of his nose could be made to feel that his finger was extending, giving him the perception that his nose growing.

In the current experiment, volunteers placed their hands at their waists. The skin over the tendon responsible for bending the wrists inward was then vibrated, producing the illusion that the waist was shrinking.

The findings, Ehrsson said, could one day be used to better understand conditions that involve misperception of body image -- for example anorexia, in which people see themselves as too fat even when they're skeletal. [Reuters December 6, 2005]

Maybe one day science can adjust this part of the brain to give us the illusion that we are all supermodels :)
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