What is phantom vibration syndrome?


Ever felt your phone buzz in your pocket, then pulled it out to find no text, no call, no notification? You might be experiencing ‘phantom vibration syndrome’– and you’re not alone. According to one study, 9 out of 10 undergraduates said they had experienced the phenomenon in the last week or month.

Scientists aren’t exactly sure why these tactile hallucinations happen to so many of us. One leading theory is that our excessive smartphone use, and our creeping sense that we should be constantly available, have conditioned our brains to overinterpret sensations such as clothing moving against our skin. On the plus side, most people don’t find the phantom signals bothersome.

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Asked by: Andy Mann, Birmingham

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