Published on January 30th, 20140
How can You Stop an Itch You just can’t Scratch? Try Mirror Scratching
Next time try to refrain from scratching yourself in a place where you are irritated, the solution would be to look in the mirror, say german scientists.
German researchers have found that we can easily fool the brain into believing that itching occurs on the opposite hand when we look in the mirror.
Christoph Helmchen and colleagues at the University of Lübeck, Germany, have discovered that people can feel the itch disappearing, even when they scratch the wrong place.
The study found that although the effect was shown to be effective only 25% compared with scratching in the area where the itching occurs, the action still bring a feeling of relaxation.
“In both experiments, scratching the non-itching limb attenuated perceived itch intensity significantly and selectively in the mirror condition”, the scientists concluded.
“This effect might be due to a transient illusionary intersensory perceptual congruency of visual, tactile and pruriceptive signals”.
Scratching the mirror could provide an alternative treatment to reduce itching perception. This approach could have a significant clinical impact because it would protect the affected skin.
In the study , scientists injected the right forearm of 26 male volunteers histamine , a chemical that causes itching .
Since an injection creates a red dot, experts have painted a similar point to the subjects other arm .
Initially, one of the researchers scratched each arm of the participants. As expected, the scratching of the right forearm, which was injected with histamine, brings comfort, while scratching the other forearm didn’t help the subjects.
Next, they placed a large vertical mirror in front of the itchy arm, blocking off the subject’s view of their right arm and reflecting back the non-itchy one in its place.
Volunteers were asked to look only at arm which is reflected in a mirror, while a specialist scratch both arms. This time, participants felt relieved when the arm unaffected by histamine was scratched.
Although the effect was relatively weak (the effect was shown to be effective only 25% compared with scratching in the area where the itching occurs). The study indicated that visual signals may exceed the messages sent from the brain to the body, as long as there is a mismatch between them.
Source: Daily Mail