Feeling flat?

PEOPLE can be persuaded to feel like a table, according to a bizarre experiment that sheds new light on body image disorders such as anorexia. 

Scientists have reported on an odd illusion that occurs when a person cannot see their own hand but can see a rubber hand placed next to them on a table. 

When both are tapped and stroked in a sequence simultaneously, the subject experiences the illusion that the touch sensation came from the fake hand.  

Prof Vilayanur Ramachandran and Dr Carrie Armel of the University of California, San Diego, took the experiment one step further and simply stroked the table in precise synchrony.  

To the scientists’ astonishment, subjects often reported sensations arising from the table surface, despite the fact that it bears no visual resemblance to a hand. 

The scientists believe the findings may have implications for helping those with body image disorders such as anorexia nervosa. “The more we can understand how these processes work, the more we can develop ways of improving people’s own body image,” said Dr Armel. – © The Telegraph Group Ltd, London 

Link between slimming and smoking 

GIRLS who dream of having a figure like a model run the risk of becoming smokers, according to a survey by Massachusetts Tobacco.  

The American survey questioned 273 girls about their smoking habits a number of times over a four-year period. 

In the first part of the survey, most of the respondents, aged between 12 and 15, were non smokers. Four years later, 23% of the girls had become smokers. The definition of “smoker” was anyone who had smoked at least 10 cigarettes. 

The scientists discovered that those girls who said they regarded a slender figure as “very important”, were four times as likely to take up smoking than girls who were less concerned about their figure. – dpa 

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