Induction of an illusory shadow person

Nature. 2006 Sep 21;443(7109):287. doi: 10.1038/443287a.


Stimulation of a site on the brain's left hemisphere prompts the creepy feeling that somebody is close by. The strange sensation that somebody is nearby when no one is actually present has been described by psychiatric and neurological patients, as well as by healthy subjects, but it is not understood how the illusion is triggered by the brain. Here we describe the repeated induction of this sensation in a patient who was undergoing presurgical evaluation for epilepsy treatment, as a result of focal electrical stimulation of the left temporoparietal junction: the illusory person closely 'shadowed' changes in the patient's body position and posture. These perceptions may have been due to a disturbance in the multisensory processing of body and self at the temporoparietal junction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ego
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Illusions / psychology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*