Phantom Vibration Syndrome

Phantom vibration syndrome or phantom ringing is the perception that one’s mobile phone is vibrating or ringing when it is not. Other terms for this concept include ringxiety (a portmanteau of ring and anxiety) and fauxcellarm (a play on “false alarm”). According to Dr. Michael Rothberg, the term is not technically a syndrome, but is better characterised as a tactile hallucination since the brain perceives a sensation that is not present.

Phantom ringing may be experienced while taking a shower, watching television, or using a noisy device. Humans are particularly sensitive to auditory tones between 1,000 and 6,000 hertz, and basic mobile phone ringers often fall within this range. Phantom vibrations develop after carrying a cell phone set to use vibrating alerts. Researcher Michelle Drouin found that almost 9 of 10 undergraduates at her college experienced phantom vibrations.

phantom vibration syndrome

In the comic strip Dilbert, cartoonist Scott Adams referenced such a sensation in 1996 as “phantom-pager syndrome.” The earliest published use of the term phantom vibration syndrome dates to 2003 in an article entitled “Phantom Vibration Syndrome” published in the New Pittsburgh Courier, written under a pen name of columnist Robert D. Jones. In the conclusion of the article, Jones wrote, “…should we be concerned about what our mind or body may be trying to tell us by the aggravating imaginary emanations from belts, pockets and even purses? Whether PVS is the result of physical nerve damage, a mental health issue, or both, this growing phenomenon seems to indicate that we may have crossed a line in this ‘always on’ society.”

The first study of the phenomenon was conducted in 2007 by a researcher who coined the term ringxiety to describe it. In 2012, the term phantom vibration syndrome was chosen as the Australian Macquarie Dictionary’s word of the year.

phantom vibration syndrome

The cause of phantom vibrations is not known. Preliminary research suggests it is related to over-involvement with one’s cell phone. Vibrations typically begin occurring after carrying a phone for between one month and one year. It has been suggested that, when anticipating a phone call, the cerebral cortex may misinterpret other sensory input (such as muscle contractions, pressure from clothing, or music) as a phone vibration or ring tone.

In most studies, a majority of cell phone users report experiencing occasional phantom vibrations or ringing, with reported rates ranging from 27.4% to 89%. Once every two weeks is a typical frequency for the sensations, though a minority experience them daily. Most people are not seriously bothered by the sensations.

There is little research on treatment for phantom vibrations. Carrying the cell phone in a different position reduces phantom vibrations for some people. Other methods include turning off the vibrate mode or using a different device.

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Laughter is Panic Response to Tickling

Most of us have a ticklish spot somewhere on our bodies, and it is usually pretty easy to find. For some it’s just above the knee, for others it’s the back of the neck, and some of us go into fits of laughter if someone grabs our sides. Laughing when another person tickles you is a natural reaction. Scientists have discovered that the feeling experienced when we are tickled causes us to panic and is a natural defense to little creepy crawlers like spiders and bugs. Slight tickles from insects can send a chill through your body letting you know something is crawling on you.

That same ticklish feeling sends us into a state of panic and elicits a response of uncontrollable laughter if a person tickles us. It’s the moment that you least expect to be tickled and are that causes you to feel extremely uneasy and panicked, which leads to the most intense ticklish feeling. Even if you do know that you are about to be tickled, the fear and unease of someone touching and possibly hurting you causes you to laugh. Some people are so ticklish that they begin laughing even before they are touched.

Laughter is panic resonse

So, if someone else’s touch can tickle us, why can’t we tickle ourselves? Much of the explanation for this question is still unknown, but research has shown that the brain is trained to know what to feel when a person moves or performs any function. We aren’t aware of a lot of the sensations generated by our movements. For example, you probably don’t pay much attention to your vocal cords when you speak. For the same reason, we can’t tickle ourselves. If we grab our sides in an attempt to tickle ourselves, our brain anticipates this contact from the hands and prepares itself for it. By taking away the feeling of unease and panic, the body no longer responds the same as it would if someone else were to tickle us.

Brain scientists at the University College London have pinpointed the cerebellum as the part of the brain that prevents us from self-tickling. The cerebellum is the region located at the base of the brain that monitors our movements. It can distinguish expected sensations from unexpected sensations. An expected sensation would be the amount of pressure your fingers apply to your keyboard while typing. An unexpected sensation would be someone sneaking up behind you and tapping you on the shoulder. While the brain discards the sensation of typing, it pays a lot of attention to someone tapping on your shoulder. The difference in reactions from expected to unexpected is a built-in response that probably developed in early human history to detect predators.

Although we are not able to tickle ourselves unassisted, there is a way to trick the brain by using a robot tickler. That’s right. With all of the know-how of science and technology, a robot has been designed to allow people to tickle themselves. The same British scientists mentioned above have designed a machine that enables you to tickle yourself by remote control. To use the machine, a person lies on their back with their eyes shut. The robot is located near the person with a piece of soft foam attached to a plastic rod that is controlled by a remote control joystick. When the person activates the rod, the robot will react after a short delay. Even with delays as short as a fifth of a second from the time the person activates the rod until the robot tickled the person’s hand, subjects have described the sensation as the same as another person tickling them. So, in a sense, you could tickle yourself with a robotic assistant.

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Oxytocin reason for Alcoholism and Drug

It turns out oxytocin is responsible for a lot more than just love. New science has found that this amazing molecule also influences how sociable each of us is, allowing us to ‘tune in’ to the social information around us, perceiving it in much higher resolution. Scientists are now applying this new knowledge in the lab, and as reporter Dr Graham Phillips finds out, they’re discovering oxytocin’s great potential to treat social disorders, like drug addiction and alcoholism.

oxytocin system

As per Dr Graham Phillips the oxytocin system develops during childhood and it now seems, if that system doesn’t develop properly, you’re more prone to alcoholism and drug addiction as an adult.

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