The Phantom of the Arm

I read an excerpt of Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See by Donald D. Hoffman that spoke to the fact that there is evidence our brain constructs what we see and touch. The chapter discussed medical studies that were performed on patients who had limbs amputated but could feel the sensation that the appendage was still there (Phantom limb syndrome). Hoffman used this as an argument that even the sensation of touch is something created in our brains, not necessarily imposed through outside influences.

It’s something I’ve never thought about with regards to touch before. I’ve though about whether or not people see things the same way I do (physically, not metaphorically), or how my colorblind father and sister see the world, but I always just assumed sensations of touch were relatively universal. Is it possible to “spoof” a feeling of touch? I’m not sure if scientifically there is a way to make materials change their physical feeling yet, but that would be an interesting development. Or maybe a sensor in our brain that corresponds with a material. Wouldn’t a trackpad that changes texture depending on the application or game be really interesting? Maybe an e-book that could simulate the texture and weight of pages while still using a display. This really makes me rethink what could be possible for the future of human/computer interaction.

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