“Virtual Hand” Can Help Heal Anxiety Disorder

The latest studies of the neuroscientists show that people with anxiety disorder still have hope for healing. These specialists developed a virtual-reality hand that needs to be synchronized with the heartbeat of the patient to make the brain believe that it holds “body ownership”. As a result the brain will think that the hand is a part of the body.

Relevance of the Findings

If the “hand” works out, it looks like the people with body image disorders and anxiety disorders will be cured. The specialists claim that this study proves the fact that the brain can construct body ownership from tactile and visual sensory signals and the feedback that the body offers.

Rubber Hand Illusion

The whole discovery started from the “rubber hand illusion”, which is a trick that has been used for a long time. The trick works by making the brain believe that the rubber hand is a part of the body when it is stroked in the same time as the real hand of the patient.

Cardio Element

This new trick has an added element of “cardio” which helps implementing the technique. With the help of the heartbeat the hand really gets the feel of reality. This time it’s not only about the visual effect, but the hand is really connected with the body through the heart rate.


The study has been conducted with the help of 21 volunteers. The volunteers had a head mounted display to make them believe the virtual reality that they were presented with. The volunteers had their hand hidden and they only saw the virtual hand which they had to focus on.


In order to make the participants believe that they see their hand, it pulsated in red and black according to their heart beat. At other times the pulsing of the hand was asynchronized. According to the study, the people considered the virtual hand a part of their body more often when it pulsated with their heart rate.


The studies show that the volunteers’ brain is able to incorporate a foreign body part into the body. This all means that cognitive and perceptual processes can be linked to the heartbeat which may be used in case of treating disorders such as body image disorders and anxiety disorders.

As you can see, reality is all about the way our brain perceives it and people can use different kinds of methods to make their brain believe the unbelievable.