Have you ever had the sensation that your cell phone was ringing, only to reach into your pocket to find out it wasn’t?
This is an occurrence of what I like to call, a ghost ring. As, by nature, humans are creatures of habit, and most of us will have our cell phone in the same pocket every day. Because of this repetitiveness our nervous systems have “learned” this sensation. Technically this is like the phantom limb sensation that amputees would sense. Neurologist have come to understand that this is is due to modifications in the somatosensory cortex. In case you don’t know what that is (I didn’t) it is the main sensory receptive area in the brain for the sense of touch.
When the phone rings (and thus vibrates) there is an external sensation that everyone senses. When this happens consistently over time the brain becomes more and more accustom to the repetitiveness of this sensation. Much like the phantom sensations of amputees, when the device is removed there is an “expectation” of the brain for the sensation to occur and thus, it does.
I became very excited about a post on this idea because I thought I may have been on to something. Certainly there are thousands of closet ghost ring sufferers out there who are simply waiting for someone to lead them out of the darkness (okay, maybe that’s a little over the top…)
As with any good idea, you want to Google it to make sure it’s not already been addressed elsewhere. I will admit I was a little disheartened when I immediately saw a result from Urban Dictionary.
ghost ring – when one feels a vibration in their leg, as if their cell phone was ringing, but actually the cell phone was not on vibrate, or was absent altogether
But beyond this posting, there wasn’t anything else noted. So remember you heard it here first… unless you happened to read it on Urban Dictionary. 🙂
DISCLAIMER: All of my medical training comes from prime time television and the Internet… so before any neurologist call me crazy or incorrect, please keep this in mind.