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Augmentation and Dissociation: Exploring Brain's Associations Across Real and Virtual Realities

Issued Date: 7th February 2024

Published Date: 12th February 2024

Author Affiliations: Sushma Sharma


This paper explores the malleable nature of perceived reality and bodily ownership as demonstrated through multisensory illusions like the rubber hand experiment. Research shows that precisely matching what someone sees and feels can recalibrate neural processing to incorporate fake limbs into one’s sense of bodily boundaries and agency. This means an individual's feelings of having a body and self come from the brain continually tweaking itself based on intersensory correlations. Meanwhile, extensive trauma research reveals significant disruptions when overwhelming experiences prevent smooth processing, storage and understanding in an individual. This manifests in dissociated fragments and dysfunctional encodings splitting from explicit memory and ownership, recreating persisting struggles without awareness. However, early therapeutic approaches using coordinated sensory stimulation suggest the potential for compassionately reshaping rigid implicit perceptions that complicate trauma recovery by tapping into neuroplasticity. Research on bodily illusions, the complexities of trauma, and sensory-based treatments shows that trauma can be framed as a disruption in aligning expectations with sensory input to create a more unified experience. There exists potential for tailored therapeutic exposures through custom sensory feedback to rewrite rigid encodings towards post-traumatic growth. Future research should thoughtfully explore these avenues into practical methods that respect survivors’ agency and dignity. Overall these themes reveal one's perception of reality as fluid, constructed by the brain continuously adjusting its predictions and interpretations to match the incoming flow of sensory information from sight, sound, touch, etc. Trauma strains the integrative system underlying a coherent experience. Therapies strategically recalibrating the senses can help realign stuck implicit perceptions of trauma. Through controlled and empowering sensory exposures, these therapies assimilate past overwhelming impressions into narratives that affirm bodily wholeness and resilience.


Keywords: Perceived Reality · Rubber Hand Experiment · Multisensory Illusions · Therapeutic Exposures


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