Magazine article Psychology Today

Shields Up

Magazine article Psychology Today

Shields Up

Article excerpt

LIKE RADAR, OUR brains constantly monitor the zone just outside our bodies-an ability that equips us to detect danger, handle ordinary objects, and coordinate with other people. In his book The Spaces Between Us, Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano explores the origins and power of this process. -ShiraPolan

CONTROLLING

Normally, the area we perceive as our personal space wraps around our body like a second skin. However, we're able to temporarily stretch this barrier to envelop tools, Graziano says. By extending our hand's force field around a fork, we can more effectively track the utensil's location in space and accurately maneuver it to our mouth. Researchers have demonstrated this ability in other primates. If a monkey is trained to use a rake to obtain out-of-reach treats, a neuron that responds to objects approaching the monkey's arm eventually reacts similarly to objects approaching the rake.

INVITING

Our bubble shrinks and grows in different social contexts. …

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