In Touch with the Future: How your brain predicts your own touch
10 May 2022, 16:20:00
You’re in a dimly lit cinema watching Hitchcock’s classic horror Psycho. While reaching for your popcorn you suddenly bump into your other hand. Are you startled? No, but if someone else suddenly bumped your hand, your reaction may be far more extreme. This seemingly trivial example highlights the brain’s extraordinary ability to swiftly distinguish between self and externally generated sensations. The key to this is the brain’s ability to predict future sensory information. I research how accurately predicting the future allows the brain to construct a coherent representation of the present.
I am a cognitive neuroscientist fascinated by the idea that our perception is continuously shaped by our actions. I want to understand how problems with predictive mechanisms in the brain can lead to disturbed perceptual experiences (i.e. hallucinations and delusions) in schizophrenia, but also in the broader continuum of schizotypy in the healthy population. I believe that self-touch presents a fascinating problem for how the brain predicts and updates perception in concert with motor actions, a topic I am researching further as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral fellow at Karolinska Institute’s Department of Neuroscience.