Who's Calling? No one.
It seems our addiction to communication and connectivity is manifesting itself physically. People have been complaining about "phantom vibrations" from their cell phones for years, but scientists are just now starting to take notice. You may have even experienced it yourself. You're sitting on your couch or at the dinner table when you feel your phone vibrate in your pocket. You take it out to answer it, only to realize no one is calling you.
No studies have been conducted yet to analyze the cause of the imaginary buzzing, but experts are now tackling the subject and putting forth suggestions as to its cause. Most agree that whatever the specific physiological cause, it is a sign of how quickly we form habits, and how addicted we've become to constant communication.
There are currently two competing hypothesis. One suggests that it is simply the result of the process of learning to filter our sensations in order to recognize the vibration and associate it with the cell phone. The filter, especially as it is being learned, is imperfect and false alarms are bound to occur.
The other theory suggests a more physical cause. Neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to form new connections in response to changes in the environment, can explain the phantom vibrations. When we experience sensations regularly, our brains can become hardwired. When the connection becomes "over-solidified" in the words of Jeffery Janata, the director of behavioral medicine at University Hospitals in Cleveland, the sensations "are easily activated ... They become a habit of the brain." This is similar to the phenomena at work behind the phantom limb pains felt by amputees. The brain rewires itself to utilize the parts of the brain that would have normally received messages from the missing body part. Messages sent to this part of the brain by other limbs are often misinterpreted as sensation from the missing appendage.
From USA Today
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