Doctors confirm woman's imaginary third arm is real


Well, that’s a little overstating it. Woman has a stroke, begins imagining that she has a third arm that no one can see. Eventually she goes to the doctor and it turns out that her brain responds as if the arm is real. Unlike most cases of ‘phantom limbs’, she can even use it to scratch an itch.

Researchers instructed the woman to move her right hand. As expected, the motor cortex and visual processing areas in the left side of her brain became mobilised.
The same effects were observed to a lesser extent when the woman simply imagined moving her right hand. Imaginary movements of the woman’s paralysed left hand prompted the same activity in the brain, but on the right side.
But when doctors asked her to move her phantom arm, her brain reacted as though the arm really existed and could be moved. In addition, the patient’s visual cortex was also activated, indicating the she actually saw the imaginary limb.
And when she was instructed to scratch her cheek, regions of the brain relating to touch were activated.

Maybe I should’ve gone with ‘SYLAR LIVES!’ as a thread title, but I didn’t want to oversell.

That’s crazy. I wonder if she can masturbate with it.

Before you think of how dirty this and how my mind automatically went there, what other use would an imaginary arm that can only influence sensation on your own body be? Besides scratching itches and maybe rubbing yourself reassuringly I can’t think of anything else.


I guess this would give you awesome anti-eczema or chickenpox or whatever capability. All the flavour of the real scratching, none of the irritation*. Not the best superpower, but still something.

*Calm down ElG!

Freaky. Phantom limbs are freaky enough, one that actually causes the brain to respond in other locations though … twilight zone material.

Duma Key.

That was my first thought.

Back in 2nd edition D&D, they introduced kits to the classes to allow you to differentiate yourself. (For example, fighters could choose to become samurai or peasant militia) One kit that was made available to rangers was one where you could grow a third arm out of your chest. (That was it… that was the entire kit.) At the time, me & my friends thought it was the dumbest kit imagineable.

Looks like TSR knew something we didn’t.

Zaphod Beeblebrox syndrome!

Gil the Arm, anybody?

Perhaps a career in organized super-scientific crime might be more fitting.