Human centipede, 3th arm illusion and memory

Would our working memory be different if we were centipedes (100 arms/legs)? I we hold a tennisbal in our right hand and a tennisracket in our left we would be aware of that. The point I’m trying to make is, that perhaps our working memory can be made bigger by imagining having more than 2 arms.

There is an experiment that proves that this possible. The test subject sits behind a table on which a rubber arm is placed, in the same way his real let say left arm is placed. The real left arm is covered up with a towel. By stroking the real arm and the fake arm at the same time the test subject thinks the fake arm is real (sort of). When the towel is removed, the test subject will feel that he has 3 arms.

Does anyone have an idea how to make you brain believe having 10 or so imaginary arms and hence allow for a bigger working memory?

Visualised it and my brain believed I had 10 arms for a moment, then tried to move them and it feels kind of like moving the the toes on your feet, just a bit easier actually. Yeah I can somewhat keep track of my 10 hands at the same time, what I can’t keep track of is the different colours of objects they each have at the same time on each finger, if they are different. Feels kind of creepy to have 10 hands at the same time if they are sticking out of your back. The evidence that my brain believed it for a moment is the fact that the sensation was creepy, It feels like you are moving multi layered worms inside your back.

Seems it is not that easy but perhaps what you are implying is that by constantly being under the requiring strain to have to keep more in your head at a time by employing your working memory you will get better at it, particularly if you are using many different regions of your brain in conjunction to this.


You know, when I was younger I once questioned working memory while looking at the board copying down what the teacher was telling us to copy down. I asked myself the question of why do I keep looking down then back up at every word if I can just remember a chunk of words and then write them down, surely this would be quicker? There isn’t any reason to pick the easier route when it involves so much mindless cross referencing, so I did just that. I then began to question why I could only keep so much in my head at a time when I can obviously read it, being my naive kids head at the time I tried to double this and realised that by repeating it a few times in one way or another I was able to do this. Around a week later or rather 4 days later, I became able to easily maintain double of what I could maintain in my head at a time. With some repeating it was making 4x my working memory doable to some extent. The strain from keeping 4x the amount in my head was kind of higher and I was satisfied with the results so I stopped doing this. By the end of the year it dripped back down to what it was originally.

Being older I naturally attempted this again but I didn’t have the same success. Then a few years ago I had to spend some time learning quite a lot in a day, I learned likely the most I have ever had in a day for pretty much over 16 hrs straight of learning under pressure. The day after that when I woke up my working memory had effectively doubled. Having gone through this hurdle I didn’t continue it and decided that I may as well rest a lot more for the next few days so I did this and my working memory quickly went back to what it was before that. A few months ago I tried a few experiments to get my working memory to go up a bit and in a strange sense I had some success with barely any practice, something along the lines of doing 3 repetitions and going to bed to have the boost for the next day( to note I have tried a lot before that but didn’t have success so much).

I will also note that by working memory in the above cases I am referring strictly to verbal working memory, except when I mentioned the day I spent in excess work, the limited days post this included both visual and verbal working memory being heightened to some extent.

Yes but it may not really be higher at all, might be lower. Centipedes don’t even have language in the same way we do.

For example, if I look at a large page of a book, I can recall it perfectly , I would love to claim this to be photographic memory but… I can’t read it even if I can recall it. It just looks like a bunch of text I can’t identify, the only thing I can really identify is the structure. So how many objects am I recalling? In truth around 1 object that has a pattern of squiggles in the middle and its structure to some extent. When I can track a full sentence or two in my working memory verbally, centipedes likely also have their own cheats to moving their up to 100 limbs, you know like “move their legs in a wave-like undulation along their body propelling themselves forward (or backward!) against the substrate”. As oppose to their legs all doing different things at the same time.

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thanks for your input. I agree with you that an actual centipede may not win a memory championship, since all his money is spent on shoes en there is nothing left for a bus ticket.

I have 1 possble way that might work (sort of).

The actual 3th arm experiment involves confusing the mind by sensory input. So what if we can confuse our own brain by looking at different imaginary arms at a high speed. So just like waving your hand real fast gives the impression of your hand being in 2 places at once, perhaps this fast alternating forces the brain to exept multiple arms as it’s own.

I just tried visualising moving 2 arms very quickly, my heart spikes when I do this. It was quick enough to visibly see 12 arms, but the awareness that there are two arms is still there for me.

I also tried re-watching a scene which had arms moving this quickly after that to compare, my heart rate also goes up when I do this but a little less intensively. Re-visualising the scene has the same impact as my initial visualisation.

If I time my blinking rate well and swing my arm, for a brief moment I would see it in two places, but I also maintain the awareness that it is 1 arm.

I think this way may be a little difficult since you need to keep track of the movement itself to feel that it is your arm and when you do this you automatically keep the perception that you have 2 arms and also the feeling of the motion can elude your brain out of this confusion attempt.

thanks for doing the experiment for me. I’m afraid I will get the same results. Maybe magic mushrooms may do the trick?

It’s always good to cross check and do the action in the belief that it will provide your expected results.

I think there are also other options.

Some mushroom seeming objects though can be quite lethal, instead of getting some beneficial results you might even end up on the floor being eaten from the inside, but that is also a possible choice. It might take benefit from a more scientific approach so you can avoid treading your own life at the very edge on every encounter.

If you do indeed do this and find something, feel free to send me a private message of it, I may then begin my own search for that magic mushroom you have encountered.

I think I’m going to buy a robotarm and put it on my body when i’m shopping to train my brain. And when someone asks why I do this, I just say that the internet told me mushrooms are dangerous, so I need this robotarm.

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I suggest instead of a robot arm unless it has skin you should get a fake arm, the kind they use in Halloween pranks. Make sure not to give people heart attacks with them.

Hahaha when I read “human centipede” I thought you were talking about something very different

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You can retold yourself that you mybe wkeup in the morning hold your mouth yawning with 10 arms and you can read with 2 hand also your eyes is like reptile look at two object and have different angle

This strangely reminds me of the predator movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger.