Human Phantom Vibration Syndrome (HPVS) is a new phenomenon on the verge of psychology and neurology that affects many users of mobile phones. It manifests itself differently but most commonly the owner a cell phone experiences the sensation of a vibration signal, although the device receives neither a message nor a call. The phenomenon has already been described in medical journals, however, there are very few studies on how often it occurs and what are the causes.
Between May and June 2010, Baystate Medical Center in western Massachusetts conducted a study on the frequency of Human Phantom Vibration Syndrome among employees. Factors that may influence the phenomenon, such as the type of mobile phone, gender and age of the owner, etc., were also examined. The analysis of the survey revealed that 68% of respondents have experienced or experience HPVS. The majority of respondents admitted, that the hallucination of phantom vibration occurred in the period from the first month to one year after the purchase of the device and it usually happens once a week. The type of the device has no influence on the sensation which can be also caused by pagers popular in the United States. Interestingly, there seems to be a clear correlation between HPVS and place where the owner carries the device – 100% of respondents who carry phones or pagers in their pocket on the chest experienced the sensation.
Obviously the syndrome is neither disturbing nor requires treatment, however, its understanding may provide some new information on the functions of the central nervous system. Scientists explain that HPVS results from the brain cortex falsely interpreting stimuli and associating the stimuli with a non-existent vibration alarm. In order to manage the immense number of excitations our brain creates schemes on the level of the sensory cortex and this helps to recognize complex stimuli. Scientists think that certain neural discharges could activate those schemes and cause HPVS. The character of those discharges is unknown but muscle fibrillations and responses to changes of atmospheric pressure are suspected.
The use of mobile phones and other communication devices has become very common. Their everyday use seems to have an effect on our health that cannot be predicted just now.
Written by: Adam Lebiediew, Jerzy Bednarski, Michał Hys, Maciej Jakuszko
Translation: Magdalena Hanc
Want to know more about brain? Watch on medtube.net: “Normal Cerebral Anatomy and Physiology”