Phantom Vibration Syndrome: Yes, You Have It

January 12, 2016

You’re likely glued to your smartphone during your workday and that over-attachment may now be causing you to always be on alert. A whopping nine in 10 of the population have suffered from “phantom vibration syndrome,” the feeling that your muted cell phone in your pocket is vibrating when it's not. Researchers say it’s caused by “learned bodily habits.” 

When a person leaves their phone in their pocket it then becomes “part of their body” and they forget its there – like wearing glasses, notes researcher Robert Rosenberger, an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in his published study in the Computers in Human Behaviour journal. But the device can prompt people to interpret the smallest movements as phone calls, like a “hallucination.”

Rosenberger attributes it partially to the anxiety many people feel in the overly connected society, concerned that they’ll miss a phone call or e-mail alert. 

“People then perceive other sensations such as movement of clothing of muscle spasms as vibrations from your mobile, but it’s just a hallucination,” Rosenberger says.

Rosenberger posits that technology may actually be changing your brain chemistry and changing cognitive pathways.

"People are guessing it has something to do with nervous energy," says Rosenberger. "The cognitive scientists are talking about brain chemistry, cognitive pathways changing.”

Source: “Could Anxiety be Causing 90 Percent of People to Suffer From Phantom  Vibration Syndrome?” TechSpot (Jan. 11, 2016)