The Disappearing Hand

The first prize at the 8th Annual Best Illusion of the Year Contest at VSS in 2012 went to a demonstration by Roger Newport, Helen Gilpin and Catherine Preston called the disappearing hand trick.

This demonstration made me think of some beautiful experiments conducted in Copenhagen by Torsten Ingemann Nielsen in 1963 called the alien hand experiment. Here an observer also lets visual input override proprioceptive information, as an experimentor through the use of mirrors manipulate the visual feedback of the observer (see fig 1 in Gallagher & Sørensen 2006).


Nielsen, T. I. (1963). Volition: A new experimental approach. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 4, 225–230.

Gallagher, S. & Sørensen, J. B. (2006). Experimenting with phenomenology. Consciousness and Cognition, 15, 119–134.


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