You Can Use A Vibrator To Give Yourself Powerful Body Illusions

How can I put this delicately? Do you have a vibrating toothbrush? A personal body massager? If you do, you can perform some amazing sensory illusions, like making your nose seem huge or your waist small. Finally, an excuse to give the TSA agents when they search your bags!

Look online for simple sensory illusions and you can find something called the Pinocchio Illusion or the Pinocchio Effect. This illusion can make people think that their nose has grown incredibly huge. It takes two people. One person closes their eyes and strokes their own nose with their hand. They use their other hand to stroke the nose of a person standing just in front of them. (Ideally, this person has volunteered, though it might be interesting to see how this works out with the person seated in front of you on the bus.) After about thirty seconds of synchronized nose stroking, the stroker should feel like their nose is either three feet long or has floated away from their body.

That is the kids' version of the trick. The adults' version of the Pinocchio Illusion involves a vibrator. The vibrator could be a massager, or a lab instrument, or a toothbrush, or any number of other things. You know which things. For the purposes of this post, we'll use the non-specific term "vibrator."

You Can Use A Vibrator To Give Yourself Powerful Body Illusions

Muscle spindles are the sensory receptors of a muscle. When they're vibrated they communicate to the brain a sense that the muscles are being stretched. This happens whether they are actually being stretched or not. Vibration against muscle fibers gives the illusion that the muscles are moving and stretching. So if a you were to put your hand on your nose, and touch a vibrator to your bicep tendon (either at the elbow or at the shoulder) you should eventually get the sensation that your arm is stretching out further and further. You get this sense even though you are still touching your own nose, so as your arm "stretches," it feels like your nose is growing and growing.

A known variation of the experiment involves two vibrators, touched to the outside of the wrists, while the hands are on the waist. Vibrators make it seem like your arms are moving, getting closer and closer together, so your waist is shrinking down to nothing.

I imagine there are all kinds of variations on the experiment. Touching a vibrator to different tendons on the hands and arms, while those hands and arms are touching different body parts, could make it seem like the body is being distorted all kinds of ways. The only way to find them is to pick up a vibrator and experiment. Now you know what to do with your long weekend.

[Via Illusory Feeling of Shrinking of the Waist, Vibrators Shrink Self-Perceived Waistline, The Pinocchio Illusion.]