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Induction of an illusory shadow person

Nature volume 443, page 287 (21 September 2006) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Stimulation of a site on the brain's left hemisphere prompts the creepy feeling that somebody is close by.

The strange sensation that somebody is nearby when no one is actually present has been described by psychiatric and neurological patients, as well as by healthy subjects, but it is not understood how the illusion is triggered by the brain1,2. Here we describe the repeated induction of this sensation in a patient who was undergoing presurgical evaluation for epilepsy treatment, as a result of focal electrical stimulation of the left temporoparietal junction: the illusory person closely 'shadowed' changes in the patient's body position and posture. These perceptions may have been due to a disturbance in the multisensory processing of body and self at the temporoparietal junction.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. *Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne 1015, Switzerland

    • Shahar Arzy
    •  & Olaf Blanke
  2. †Presurgical Epilepsy Evaluation Unit, University Hospital, Geneva 1211, Switzerland

    • Margitta Seeck
    •  & Laurent Spinelli
  3. ‡Department of Neurology, University Hospital, Geneva 1211, Switzerland

    • Shahar Arzy
    • , Margitta Seeck
    • , Stephanie Ortigue
    •  & Olaf Blanke
  4. §Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth, New Hampshire 03755, USA

    • Stephanie Ortigue

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Olaf Blanke.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/443287a

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