How to trick your mind into thinking you have three hands

It gives a whole new meaning to the idea of lending a hand.

Scientists have created the illusion of having three hands – and made it so realistic that men and women taking part broke into a sweat when their ‘extra’ limb was threatened with a knife.

The bizarre insight into how the brain can be fooled may speed the development of life-like prosthetic limbs for stroke patients and others who have lost the use of their own arms.

Experiment: Scientists have created the illusion of having three hands – fooling volunteers’ into thinking they had two right limbs

To create the illusion, Swedish scientists set up an experiment in which a person sat at a table and had a skin-toned rubber artificial arm placed next to their right arm.

Both their real arm and the artificial one were covered with a cloth up to the shoulder, leaving only the two ‘right hands’ in clear sight.

The researchers then used small brushes to tickle the real hand and the rubber hand at the same time and in exactly the same spot and the men in women taking part were asked how they felt.

Perhaps surprisingly, many said they felt as if they had two right hands, the journal PLoS ONE reports.

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