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Study finds that the popular rubber hand illusion could be used to treat OCD

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Fictional detective Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) famously suffered from OCD, with a powerful germ phobia, among many others. Perhaps "multi sensory stimulation therapy" would have helped.

Enlarge / Fictional detective Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) famously suffered from OCD, with a powerful germ phobia, among many others. Perhaps "multi sensory stimulation therapy" would have helped. (credit: USA Network)

Chances are good that you've seen entertaining footage of the so-called "rubber hand illusion," where someone becomes convinced that a fake rubber hand is actually their own. It's more than a clever party trick, however. Not only does the illusion shed light on how the brain "maps" our physical bodies, it could also prove to be an effective treatment for patients suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), according to a recent paper published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

German philosopher Martin Heidegger introduced the notion of "ready-to-hand" in the 1930s to describe how the body can incorporate our most familiar functional tools into its concept of the self, much like a blind person who regularly uses a cane to navigate his or her surroundings. As far as the brain is concerned, the cane becomes an extension of the physical body.

Studies have shown a similar effect when we regularly use a computer mouse. It might even be true of our avatars in virtual space. Virtual reality guru Jaron Lanier introduced the concept of "homuncular flexibility" in the 1980s to describe how the brain could become unable to distinguish between our real and virtual bodies over time. If something bad happens to you in the virtual world, the same neural circuitry is activated that would be engaged if it happened to you in the "real" world.

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Single-use plastic: China to ban bags and other items

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One of the world's biggest users of plastic plans to phase out most single-use items by 2025.
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Prince Harry to remain RFL patron despite dropping royal duties

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The Duke of Sussex is to remain patron of the Rugby Football League despite agreeing to drop his royal duties and HRH title.
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The cure might be worse than the disease in first trailer for Morbius

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Oscar winner Jared Leto stars as Dr. Michael Morbius in Sony Pictures' forthcoming film Morbius.

A brilliant doctor suffering from a rare blood disease goes to extreme lengths to find a cure and becomes a monster who craves human blood in the first trailer for Morbius, based on the popular villain (and later, antihero) in the Spider-Man comic books.

Sony's film adaptation of the character is intended to be part of a new shared universe of films along the lines of the Marvel model. The studio hopes to spin-off the Sony Marvel Universe (SMU) from its successful Spider-Man franchise. The 2018 film Venom kicked off the series, starring Tom Hardy in the title role. Critics slammed it, but Venom went on to gross over $850 million worldwide, and a sequel is slated for release this fall. So Sony decided to move forward with the planned Morbius movie, tapping Daniel Espinosa (Life) to direct—a solid choice, since Espinosa clearly knows how to merge science fiction and horror. Jared Leto will play Morbius.

Based on the trailer, Morbius will focus on the character's origins. Per the official synopsis:

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Google to ‘phase out’ third-party cookies in Chrome, but not for two years

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google will join Safari and Firefox in blocking third-party cookies in its Chrome web browser. However, unlike those browsers (which have already started blocking them by default), Google intends to take a phased approach. Justin Schuh, the director at engineering for Chrome, writes that Google’s “intention is to do this within two years.”

In those cookies’ place, Google is hoping that it can institute a new set of technical solutions for various things that cookies are currently used for. To that end, it has proposed a bunch of new technologies (as have other browser makers) that may be less invasive and annoying than tracking cookies have become.

These new technologies are supposed to make it easier for advertisers to target certain...

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Google's announced timeline for new privacy policy

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The firm unveiled a timeline for new privacy rules that will limit third-party access to user data.
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