Challenging our understanding of what it means to be human, Joel Salinas, a Harvard-trained researcher and neurologist at Massachusetts General, shares his experiences with mirror-touch synesthesia, a rare and only recently identified neurological trait that causes him to feel the emotional and physical experiences of other people. Performing a spinal tap, he feels the needle slowly enter his lower back. If a disoriented patient flies into a confused rage, Salinas slips into a similarly agitated physical state, and when a patient dies, he experiences an involuntary ruin—his body starts to feel vacant and lifeless, like a limp balloon. Susceptible to the pain and discomfort of his patients, most of whom suffer from a host of disorders and extreme injuries, Salinas uses his trait to treat their symptoms, almost as if they were his own. At the same time, in his personal life, his mirror touch blurs the boundaries between himself and those close to him until he ends up inextricably entangled, no longer able to differentiate where he ends and someone else begins. Salinas refers to his condition as a kind of compulsory mindfulness, a heightened empathic ability that offers him invaluable clues about how to see and live the world through other people’s perspectives. This heightened sense of awareness is at the center of Mirror Touch. Through his experiences, both in his neurological practice and his personal life, Salinas offers readers insights about mirror-touch synesthesia and how the brain, in its endless wonder, can sometimes perform in a nearly superhuman, extrasensory way. In the process, Salinas reveals the full power and potential of his trait, as well as its thorny complications and often debilitating limitations. Beautifully written with intelligence and compassion and anchored by the latest developments in neurology, psychology and psychiatry, Mirror Touch is an enthralling and wholly original investigation into the unexplored corners of the brain, where the foundation of human experience and relationships take root—everything it means to think, to feel, and to be.
Everyday we vicariously experience a range of states that we observe in other people: we may “feel” embarrassed when witnessing another making a social faux pas, or we may feel sadness when we see a loved one upset. In some cases this process appears to be implicit. For instance, observing pain in others may activate pain-related neural processes but without generating an overt feeling of pain. In other cases, people report a more literal, conscious sharing of affective or somatic states and this has sometimes been described as representing an extreme form of empathy. By contrast, there appear to be some people who are limited in their ability to vicariously experience the states of others. This may be the case in several psychiatric, neurodevelopmental, and personality disorders where deficits in interpersonal understanding are observed, such as schizophrenia, autism, and psychopathy. In recent decades, neuroscientists have paid significant attention to the understanding of the “social brain,” and the way in which neural processes govern our understanding of other people. In this Research Topic, we wish to contribute towards this understanding and ask for the submission of manuscripts focusing broadly on the neural underpinnings of vicarious experience. This may include theoretical discussion, case studies, and empirical investigation using behavioural techniques, electrophysiology, brain stimulation, and neuroimaging in both healthy and clinical populations. Of specific interest will be the neural correlates of individual differences in traits such as empathy, how we distinguish between ourselves and other people, and the sensorimotor resonant mechanisms that may allow us to put ourselves in another’s shoes.
Haptic perception – human beings’ active sense of touch – is the most complex of human sensory systems, and has taken on growing importance within varied scientific disciplines as well as in practical industrial fields. This book's international team of authors presents the most comprehensive collection of writings on the subject published to date and cover the results of research as well as practical applications. After an introduction to the theory and history of the field, subsequent chapters are dedicated to the neuro-physiological basics as well as the psychological and clinical neuro-psychological aspects of haptic perception.
Synaesthesia is a rare experience in which one property of a stimulus evokes a secondary experience that is not typically associated with the first (e.g. hearing words can evoke tastes). In recent years a number of studies have highlighted the authenticity of synaesthesia and attempted to use the experience to inform us about typical processes in perception and cognition. This Research Topic brings together research on synaesthesia and typical cross modal interactions to discuss the mechanisms of synaesthesia and what it can tell us about typical perceptual processes. Topics include, but are not limited to, the neurocognitive mechanisms that give rise to synaesthesia; the extent to which synaesthesia does / does not share commonalities with typical cross-modal correspondences; broader cognitive and perceptual consequences that are linked to synaesthesia; and perspectives on the origins / defining characteristics of synaesthesia.
Scholarpedia’s Encyclopedia of Touch provides a comprehensive collection of peer-reviewed articles written by leading researchers, detailing our current scientific understanding of tactile sensing and its neural substrates in animals including humans. The encyclopedia allows ideas and insights to be shared between researchers working on different aspects of touch and in different species, including research in synthetic touch systems. In addition, this encyclopedia raises awareness of research in tactile sensing and increases scientific and public interest in the field. The articles address subjects including tactile control, whiskered robots, vibrissal coding, the molecular basis of touch, invertebrate mechanoreception, fingertip transducers and tactile sensing. All the articles in this encyclopedia provide in-depth and state-of-the-art scholarly treatment of the academic topics concerned, making it an excellent reference work for academics, professionals and students.
The sense of agency is defined as the sense of oneself as the agent of one's own actions. This also allows oneself to feel distinct from others, and contributes to the subjective phenomenon of self-consciousness (Gallagher, 2000). Distinguishing oneself from others is arguably one of the most important functions of the human brain. Even minor impairments in this ability profoundly affect the individual’s functioning in society as demonstrated by psychiatric and neurological syndromes involving agency disturbances (Della Sala et al., 1991; Franck et al., 2001; Frith, 2005; Sirigu et al., 1999). But the sense of agency also plays a role for cultural and religious phenomena such as voodoo, superstition and gambling, in which individuals experience subjective control over objectively uncontrollable entities (Wegner, 2003). Furthermore, it plays into ethical and law questions concerning responsibility and guilt. For these reasons a better understanding of the sense of agency has been important for neuroscientists, clinicians, philosophers of mind and the general society alike. Significant progress has been made in this regard. For example, philosophical scrutiny has helped establish the conceptual boundaries of the sense of agency (Bayne, 2011; Gallagher, 2000, 2012; Pacherie 2008; Synofzik et al., 2008) and scientific investigations have shed light on the neurocognitive basis of sense of agency including the brain regions supporting sense of agency (Chambon et al., 2013; David et al., 2007; Farrer et al., 2003, 2008; Spengler et al., 2009; Tsakiris et al., 2010; Yomogida et al., 2010). Despite this progress there remain a number of outstanding questions such as: • Are there cross-cultural differences in the sense of agency? • How does the sense of agency develop in infants or change across the lifespan? • How does social context influence sense of agency? • What neural networks support sense of agency (i.e., connectivity and communication between brain regions)? • What are the temporal dynamics with respect to neural processes underlying the sense of agency (i.e. the what and when of agency processing)? • How can different cue models of the sense of agency be further specified and empirically supported, especially with regards to cue integration/ weighting? • What are the applications of sense of agency research (clinically, engineering etc.)? The concept of the sense of agency offers intriguing avenues for knowledge transfer across disciplines and interdisciplinary empirical approaches, especially in addressing the afore-mentioned outstanding questions. The aim of the present research topic is to promote and facilitate such interdisciplinarity for a better understanding of why and how we typically experience our own actions so naturally and undoubtedly as “ours” and what goes awry when we do not. We, thus, welcome contributions from, for example, (i) neuroscience and psychology (including development psychology/ neuroscience), (ii) psychiatry and neurology, (iii) philosophy, (iv) robotics, and (v) computational modeling. In addition to empirical or scientific studies of the sense of agency, we also encourage theoretical contributions including reviews, models, and opinions.
Sympathetic Sentiments develops an innovative interdisciplinary framework to explore the implications of living in a culture of feeling that seems ill at ease with itself, one in which sentiments are frequently denounced for being sentimental and self-indulgent. These tensions are traced back to the inheritance of the eighteenth century, enabling us to identify a distinctive 'spectacle of sympathy', in which sympathy entails public forms of expression whereby being on show is both a condition of the authenticity of such affects and of their capacity to be masked and simulated. This, John Jervis suggests, is at the root of a range of controversies central to modern life, art and culture, including contemporary debates around trauma and compassion fatigue. Connected to these debates is the issue of modern sensationalism, discussed here and elaborated in a companion volume: Sensational Subjects: The Dramatization of Experience in the Modern World, which is published simultaneously by Bloomsbury.
Touch centers on a girl, the youngest of nine sisters in a Palestinian family. In the singular world of this novella, this young woman’s everyday experiences—watching a funeral procession, fighting with her siblings, learning to read, perhaps falling in love—resonate until they have become as weighty as any national tragedy. The smallest sensations compel, the events of history only lurk at the edges—the question of Palestine, the massacre at Sabra and Shatila. In a language that feels at once natural and alienated, Shibli breaks with the traditions of modern Arabic fiction, creating a work that has been and will continue to be hailed across literatures. Here every ordinary word, ordinary action is a small stone dropped into water: of inevitable consequence. We find ourselves mesmerized one quiet ripple at a time.
The Birthing of Touch the Source, use your substance, was birth through the leading of the Holy Ghost. The spirit of God spoke to the writer, first in April 2008 about what her assignment would be: therefore, her first book name would be How to know God in a greater way. However, this endeavorment process of writing and having many trials and tribulations came to a stop. The writer knew that much was needed to complete the great assignment. She began to write another creation of God a book of poetry with the leading of the Holy Ghost in March 2009. The writer says that our God is a creator of all things and has many strategies for his people. This book of poetry is the writer first book and to God be the Glory as the head of her life. You see God Love you and the writer, so much that he touches all. The writer says God has not cast you away. Note From Ms. Lund: Dear Claudia- Thank you for sharing your beautiful book with me. Your work is a serendipitous gift to the reader. You have combined beautifully your poetry with scripture and tied the package together with a shiny red ribbon your faith and passion. All in all, its a labor of love well done. Kudos! I try and center in the Lord each day under the shadow f His wings. Thanks again. God bless you. Mary Anne Lund, Artist