What is ‘Phantom Sense’ in VR, and do you own it?

A woman wearing a VR headset looks surprised while extending her hand with her index finger.
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You are standing in the virtual reality world, surrounded by virtual grass. The wind blows and blows across the field, and you watch the tall grass blowing in the wind, you can Feel It floods your body How is this possible?

Episode 1: The Phantom Sense

When you are in virtual reality and you can “feel” a sensation that the device did not actually produce, it is referred to as “fake feeling‘, which may sound like the ‘phantom pain’ experienced by amputees you’ve probably heard before. It’s still quite different just by thinking about how the phantom sensation probably works.

The illusion sensation in virtual reality is not a new discovery, but now virtual reality headphones Mainstream members of the public go on to discover this phenomenon for themselves. If you search in forums like reddit As for the term “phantom sensation,” you’ll see many accounts from VR users who claim to have tried it.

For many VR users, this kind of “extra” immersion is desirable, so many of the forum posts above are actually about how to induce an illusionary sensation, with various VR enthusiasts offering a variety of tips on how to achieve this. Whether any of these methods work is debatable, but can something like a “phantom sensation” really happen, and how it even works?

“top-down” and “bottom-up” visualization

Illustration of the silhouette of a man with a highlight on his brain and a matrix emanating from his eyes.
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Humans and other living organisms “perceive” the world around us with sensory organs. In school, you were taught that there are five senses, but the truth is that you have many different senses that give your brain information about the outside world and the state of your body.

Perception is an inherently complex “top-down” and “bottom-up” process. The lower part of perception is the raw information that travels from your eyes, ears, and other sense organs to your brain. In your mind, this information is processed into something that makes sense to your conscious mind. So, what you perceive is not actually reality, but a processed version of it that makes sense from a human perspective.

The top-down aspects of perception are things like your past experience and what you’ve learned about the world. Your expectations and prior knowledge allow your brain to automatically fill in the blanks or anticipate what it thinks you should see. Magic tricks and optical illusions often take advantage of your expectations and how they affect what we see and hear. Most likely between these two types of cognitive processing this phantom sensation occurs.

Phantom Sense in the lab

The phantom sensation that people reported experiencing in virtual reality is likely to be a form of “body transfer”. A body transfer occurs when someone takes “ownership” of something as part of their body when it is not. The classic experiment involves a rubber arm attached to the subject so that it is in the position you would expect your real arm to be.

It has been proven that arm stroking stimulates this sensation in the subject. Likewise, inserting a needle into the rubber arm can cause pain. Psychologists hypothesize that this illusion occurs when ascending processes exceed descending processes. In other words, even though you know it’s not a real part of your body, your mind is basically tricked into accepting it and your conscious mind along the way whether it wants to or not.

In addition, virtual reality has been deliberately used to induce body movement. Researchers have determined that a person’s VR body stimulates the same thing Threat response Just like in real life. In other words, under the right conditions, the brain accepts ownership of the virtual body, and the illusion of a radical transformation of the body occurs. This may explain why some VR users experience phantom senses.

What does this mean for virtual reality?

Much of our media depends on the ability of our cognitive systems to fill in gaps. This is why you perceive motion instead of passing still images in cinema or just need a simplified suggestion of something in the panel to perceive the whole image.

If VR developers can reliably elicit the factors that stimulate illusion (as they did with “being” in VR), it could become another tool VR authors use when creating experiences.

Unfortunately, there is also a dark side to the phantom sensation since negative perceptions are possible along with positive ones. The idea of ​​using virtual reality questionable interrogation practices It’s something ethicists have been on hold for a while now, and delusion could be a sad part of that formula if anyone figured out how to intentionally use it.

Then again, a bit like lucid dreamIf you can teach or train yourself to experience illusion in VR, you can potentially elevate your VR experience beyond just hardware. Or you can think of it as using “and hidesIn your mind to make virtual reality more immersive than ever.

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