Creative tattoos are changing how we look and feel about ourselves, and the science is showing them can change our brains too.
Researchers have been exploring the link between tattoos and brain activity for years, but new research from the University of Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Health Sciences Centre shows they have a surprising connection.
“It is clear that the tattoo is a key driver of the neural changes that occur in the brain,” says Dr. Michael Raffo, who led the study.
“This means we may be able to help those who have already experienced these effects to re-engage their brains and make the most of their new experiences.”
Researchers in the lab of Dr. Raffos have been testing the effects of tattoos on volunteers’ brains using a virtual reality headset, which gives them an opportunity to explore and re-experience some of the changes that are occurring.
For the study, participants were placed in a VR headset while they had to scan a series of images and videos of different faces.
In each of the images, participants had to look at two different photos of their own and two images of different people, with one person looking at their own face while the other looked at a different person’s face.
Participants were told that the images and the videos were part of a “recreational game” and were designed to give them a sense of what it was like to have a tattoo.
The participants were asked to identify a face in the virtual reality video they viewed.
After identifying a face, the researchers then had the participants watch a video of a person wearing a tattoo, and then were asked the same question about the tattoo on the person’s body.
These videos were presented to the participants as they watched the videos.
A computer-generated image of the tattoo was shown at the beginning of each video.
Once the participants had been shown the tattoo, they were then asked to perform a series (five pictures) of different tasks in order to complete the task, which involved looking at pictures of their friends, relatives and themselves in a virtual environment.
What they found was that while participants were watching the videos of the faces of other people, they felt less stimulated by the video than they did when they were watching their own images.
Interestingly, this effect only lasted for a brief period of time.
During this period, participants showed no difference in brain activity when they looked at their friend’s face or their own.
At the end of the experiment, researchers asked participants to look back at the video and give the answer as quickly as possible, in order not to waste their time.