You are disturbed by the sound of mosquitoes buzzing around your head, suddenly it stops coming. You feel a slight prick on your skin and the next moment this little creature’s life ends with the sound of ‘chatak’. It is a simple sequence, but the result of a complex process. How do you know where the mosquito is on your body without seeing yourself?
The human body is covered with about two square meters of skin, but without seeing this cunning hunter, your hand made its way to the crime scene and struck a fatal blow to hunt the “hunter”, but you didn’t hurt yourself during that. How did it all happen? good question With the advancements the world has experienced in all fields of science, including neuroscience, the mechanisms of perception and thought are not yet fully understood.
the wrinkle is
Even the list of basic human senses is still open to debate: Beyond the traditional five senses, many argue that balance – the body’s mechanism for adapting in space – should have been included long ago. . My colleagues at McMaster University and I recently discovered a flaw in our cognition, which allows us to learn more about how the sense of balance works and how it contributes to our cognition.
When we lie on our side, the brain reduces its dependence on information related to the outside world and instead increases its dependence on internal perceptions generated by touch. For example, when we cross our arms, we have a harder time detecting whether the vibrator went to our right hand or to our left hand first. Surprisingly enough, when we close our eyes, the performance improves. The eye bandage cuts off our contact with the outside world, allowing our inner body-centered sensation to dominate.
“Carrying out similar experiments in my laboratory for 20 years”
When people lie on their side, crossing their hands also improves their performance. By itself, this information is unlikely to affect daily life. But the point is that understanding this difference will significantly satisfy our curiosity about how we adapt to the places we live in. For example, this could open avenues of discovery in other areas, including sleep. Our experiment was very simple: We observed and tested the ability of research participants, blindfolded, to identify which hand we stimulated first when they crossed their hands and not crossed them.
We have been carrying out similar experiments in our laboratory for about 20 years. In this case, the results were consistent with what we had observed in other experiments: the participants played while crossing their hands. There was a big difference when the participants were lying on their sides; When their hands were crossed, we saw a huge improvement in their ability to feel touch. Like wearing a blindfold, lying on your side reduced the influence of external representations of the world and made participants pay more attention to their internal cues. This contrast between working while standing and lying down, which we describe in Scientific Reports, leads us to wonder whether the brain consciously slows down most of the active orientation functions – the external representations – when we lie down to sleep comfortably.
David I. Shore: Professor, Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior, McMaster University