According to the Daily Mail, Professor Olaf Blanke just completed a study in Switzerland that they say proves that ghosts, or the sensation that someone unseen is touching you or in the room with you, is all in the mind. By using a sophisticated robot to create what is called FOP (Feelings of Presence), Professor Blanke and his team have established that timing issues in the mind create the feeling that someone else is in the room.
The experiment seems simple enough, but it elicited fascinating results. There was a small group of healthy subjects who put their fingers into a special robot that, when the subjects pushed forward with their finger, a second device would push into their backs simultaneously. But when that feeling of being touched was delayed by only 500 milliseconds, some of the subjects started to feel as though there were as many as four ghosts in the room. Two of the subjects, who had no history of mental illness, had to have the experiment stopped because they were too disturbed to want to continue.
Reuters reports that Blanke and his team started their study by analyzing the MRIs of 12 brains of people who claimed to have repeated encounters with ghosts. These were people who said that they continuously had the sensation of some unseen entity touching them or being in the room with them. By analyzing the MRIs, Blanke was able to isolate the areas in the brain where these sensations originate. The robot experiment was able to successfully replicate this sensation in people who did not have any type of mental disorder.
The healthy subjects were blindfolded and fitted with earplugs so that the only sensory sensation they could use was the sense of touch. When that sense of touch was altered, Blanke and his team found that the brain started playing tricks on the subjects and made them experience sensations they had never experienced before. Blanke found that the sensation was so strong that it occurred in all of his healthy subjects, which further proved that the sensation of being touched by an unseen hand is actually a brain malfunction that comes from the same part of everyone’s brain.
LiveScience.com breaks down the results of the experiment in a simple way that everyone can relate to. When the sensation of touching the back is simultaneous with the movement of the finger, then that is something the brain can process and understand. But when the touch sensation in the back is delayed just slightly, then that information causes the brain to panic and assume that someone else is in the room.
Is all of this enough to finally clear the air about ghosts? All you need to do is read the comments on any of the articles online reporting this information to see that there is still a large contingency of people who are not convinced. To many people around the world, the belief in ghosts is almost a religious feeling and that can cause conflicts in the brain that go well beyond any sort of logical explanation.
As science tries to explain away the things that go bump in the night, there are still people who are convinced that there are monsters under the bed. Professor Blanke is convinced that the evidence he has created explains the presence of ghosts once and for all. But for many people, the idea that seeing ghosts is all in their heads is simply not something that they are willing to believe.