Pain Box


If we can demonstrate that pain can be induced by suggestion, we might be able to reverse-engineer this finding so as to help people experiencing chronic pain.


Through this project, we hope to learn more about brain plasticity and suggestibility. This project seeks to emulate and expand upon, in a virtual environment, the rubber hand phenomena, where a person feels as if their hand has been displaced by a rubber hand after positioning one arm below the rubber hand and the other next to it, behind a mirror. By replicating and extending the idea of this phenomenon, and incorporating the element of pain into it, we will explore the degree to which physical pain is affected by visual cues.

How it works

In this project, a user places their hand into a physical box, and a virtual representation of their hand is displayed (at the moment using a screen, however, we would also like to explore using AR). Various painful manipulations (e.g., cutting, stabbing) are done to the virtual representation of their hand, and afterwards, the user reports if and to what degree they felt (or still feel) any pain.

The Team


  • Dr. Steven Barnes


  • Abel Waller (May 2018 – Dec 2018), Project Lead
  • Penjani Chavula (May 2018 – Dec 2018), Project Lead
  • William Beltran (May 2018 – Dec 2018), Project Member
  • Sean Efe Yilmaz (May 2018 – Dec 2018), Project Member