Maybe the arms are an illusion too… From ScienceDaily:
Neuroscientists have shown how amputees can learn to control a robotic arm through electrodes implanted in the brain. The research details changes that take place in both sides of the brain used to control the amputated limb and the remaining, intact limb. The results show both areas can create new connections to learn how to control the device, even several years after an amputation.
The researchers worked with three rhesus monkeys who suffered injuries at a young age and had to have an arm amputated to rescue them four, nine and 10 years ago, respectively. Their limbs were not amputated for the purposes of the study. In two of the animals, the researchers implanted electrode arrays in the side of the brain opposite, or contralateral, to the amputated limb. This is the side that used to control the amputated limb. In the third animal, the electrodes were implanted on the same side, or ipsilateral, to the amputated limb. This is the side that still controlled the intact limb.
The monkeys were then trained (with generous helpings of juice) to move a robotic arm and grasp a ball using only their thoughts. The scientists recorded the activity of neurons where the electrodes were placed, and used a statistical model to calculate how the neurons were connected to each other before the experiments, during training and once the monkeys mastered the activity. Paper. (public access) – Karthikeyan Balasubramanian, Mukta Vaidya, Joshua Southerland, Islam Badreldin, Ahmed Eleryan, Kazutaka Takahashi, Kai Qian, Marc W. Slutzky, Andrew H. Fagg, Karim Oweiss, Nicholas G. Hatsopoulos. Changes in cortical network connectivity with long-term brain-machine interface exposure after chronic amputation. Nature Communications, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01909-2 More.
“using only their thoughts”? But what are thoughts anyway? As J. Scott Turner says in Purpose and Desire:What Makes Something “Alive” and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It, the monkeys have a purpose and desire (acquiring juice). In their case, a conscious desire. Their thoughts are immaterial (though actual) forces even though they are only thoughts about juice.
The practical benefits are obvious to everyone. But this isn’t a great time to be a materialist.
See also: Philosopher exposes neo-Darwinian Daniel Dennett: Claims “so preposterous as to verge on the deranged” Dozens of elegant and worthless “consciousness is just a … ” essays are doubtless in the works anyway.
Neurosurgeon: Craniopagus twins demonstrate separate “souls” without separate brains The 21st century is not turning out at all the way pundits thought.
Psychologists: Consciousness is an illusion, like a rainbow.
The illusion of consciousness sees through itself