icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Swedish scientists successfully ‘swap bodies’ in bizarre experiment, changing participants’ perception of themselves

Swedish scientists successfully ‘swap bodies’ in bizarre experiment, changing participants’ perception of themselves
Swedish researchers have successfully created an out-of-body experience in which they “swapped participants’” bodies, drastically changing their perceptions of themselves while also interfering with their ability to make memories.

The team from the Brain, Body, and Self Laboratory led by Henrik Ehrsson took 33 pairs of friends and “swapped” their bodies using VR headsets, which allowed participants to see themselves in their friend's body. 

“Body swapping is not a domain reserved for science fiction movies anymore,” said neuroscientist Pawel Tacikowski from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. 

The team also included a tactile element to the experiment so the participants could feel what they saw in the goggles, similar to 4D cinema experiences.

Pushing the experiment even further, when one participant was threatened with a prop knife, the other would break out in a sweat, showing just how far the dissociation could go, even in a limited timeframe. 

Before, during and after the minutes-long experiments, the participants were asked to rate both themselves and their friend on a number of personality traits such as talkativeness, cheerfulness, independence, and confidence. The answers changed dramatically over the course of the experiment. 

"We show that the self-concept has the potential to change really quickly, which brings us to some potentially interesting practical implications," Tacikowski said.

Also on rt.com High-tech dystopia or evolution leap? Elon Musk rolls out working Neuralink brain implant prototype embedded in live pig (VIDEO)

Tacikowski added that those living with depression often have what he called, "rigid and negative beliefs about themselves" which can greatly inhibit their everyday lives but, with a slight alteration of this illusion, it can have profound effects on these apparently intractable ideas of self. 

The researchers think the research may one day open doors into several depersonalization disorders, including schizophrenia, and potentially provide novel treatment options.

Curiously, the participants also performed worse in memory tests carried out shortly after they took part in the body swap, as if their memories faded along with their sense of self, however briefly.

Also on rt.com Eternal sobriety of the drug-free mind? New research suggests ‘erasing’ certain memories may prevent addiction relapse

"People are better at remembering things that are related to themselves" says Tacikowski, suggesting that, by manipulating a person's self-representation, they managed to interfere with their memory. 

Participants who embraced the experiment more, or "became" their friends the most, performed better on the memory tests, likely as their "self incoherence" or the gap between their sense of self and their physical body, was lower posit the researchers. 

This dissonance between body and mind may impact our ability to form and store memories and the research goes at least some way towards showing that, “Walking a mile in another person’s shoes really can change the way you think.”

The research was published in the journal iScience.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

Dear readers and commenters,

We have implemented a new engine for our comment section. We hope the transition goes smoothly for all of you. Unfortunately, the comments made before the change have been lost due to a technical problem. We are working on restoring them, and hoping to see you fill up the comment section with new ones. You should still be able to log in to comment using your social-media profiles, but if you signed up under an RT profile before, you are invited to create a new profile with the new commenting system.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and looking forward to your future comments,

RT Team.