Researchers belonging to the University College London managed to make 17 people believe that they were losing weight when in reality they were not. This was done by fitting them with gadgets which gave the illusion that their hands were moving inward. The scientists were studying the effect the brain has in creating a new body image.
The stimulators used in the experiment were attached to the wrists of the blindfolded subjects of the experiment, while the brain activity was being measured by the M.R.I Scanner. The posterior parietal cortex of the brain witnessed a high degree of activity during the experiment.
The subjects of the experiment felt that their waistlines were actually shrinking. The experiment was based on the stimulation felt by the tendons of the wrists. A conflict between the senses is the reason for the illusion. The human muscle or skin do not contain receptors which inform the brain with regard to the size of the body parts.
This research may also serve to provide information with regard to anorexia, wherein people imagine that they are fat when the exact opposite is the case in reality, and it is merely a case of perception deficit.
High levels of parietal activity were felt by the subjects who felt the highest rate of shrinkage. The experiment provides proof that the human brain maps and re-maps the dimensions of the body on a continuous basis. People suffering from migraine headaches also sometimes feel that their body parts are growing smaller. The results of the Pinocchio illusion were published in the Public Library of Science Biology journal. The study reveals the parts of the brain which are involved in body dysmorphic and anorexia disorders.