Threatening a rubber hand that you feel is yours elicits a cortical anxiety response.
ABSTRACT: The feeling of body ownership is a fundamental aspect of self-consciousness. The underlying neural mechanisms can be studied by using the illusion where a person is made to feel that a rubber hand is his or her own hand by brushing the person's hidden real hand and synchronously brushing the artificial hand that is in full view. Here we show that threat to the rubber hand can induce a similar level of activity in the brain areas associated with anxiety and interoceptive awareness (insula and anterior cingulate cortex) as when the person's real hand is threatened. We further show that the stronger the feeling of ownership of the artificial hand, the stronger the threat-evoked neuronal responses in the areas reflecting anxiety. Furthermore, across subjects, activity in multisensory areas reflecting ownership predicted the activity in the interoceptive system when the hand was under threat. Finally, we show that there is activity in medial wall motor areas, reflecting an urge to withdraw the artificial hand when it is under threat. These findings suggest that artificial limbs can evoke the same feelings as real limbs and provide objective neurophysiological evidence that the rubber hand is fully incorporated into the body. These findings are of fundamental importance because they suggest that the feeling of body ownership is associated with changes in the interoceptive systems.
Project description:The rubber hand illusion refers to the observation that participants perceive "body ownership" for a rubber hand if it moves, or is stroked in synchrony with the participant's real (covered) hand. Research indicates that events targeting artificial body parts can trigger affective responses (affective resonance) only with perceived body ownership, while neuroscientific findings suggest affective resonance irrespective of ownership (e.g., when observing other individuals under threat). We hypothesized that this may depend on the severity of the event. We first replicated previous findings that the rubber hand illusion can be extended to virtual hands-the virtual-hand illusion. We then tested whether hand ownership and affective resonance (assessed by galvanic skin conductance) are modulated by the experience of an event that either "impacted" (a ball hitting the hand) or "threatened" (a knife cutting the hand) the virtual hand. Ownership was stronger if the virtual hand moved synchronously with the participant's own hand, but this effect was independent from whether the hand was impacted or threatened. Affective resonance was mediated by ownership however: In the face of mere impact, participants showed more resonance in the synchronous condition (i.e., with perceived ownership) than in the asynchronous condition. In the face of threat, in turn, affective resonance was independent of synchronicity-participants were emotionally involved even if a threat was targeting a hand that they did not perceive as their own. Our findings suggest that perceived body ownership and affective responses to body-related impact or threat can be dissociated and are thus unlikely to represent the same underlying process. We argue that affective reactions to impact are produced in a top-down fashion if the impacted effector is assumed to be part of one's own body, whereas threatening events trigger affective responses more directly in a bottom-up fashion-irrespective of body ownership.
Project description:Over the past decade, numerous neuroimaging studies based on hemodynamic markers of brain activity have examined the feeling of body ownership using perceptual body-illusions in humans. However, the direct electrophysiological correlates of body ownership at the cortical level remain unexplored. To address this, we studied the rubber hand illusion in 5 patients (3 males and 2 females) implanted with intracranial electrodes measuring cortical surface potentials. Increased high-γ (70-200 Hz) activity, an index of neuronal firing rate, in premotor and intraparietal cortices reflected the feeling of ownership. In both areas, high-γ increases were intimately coupled with the subjective illusion onset and sustained both during and in-between touches. However, intraparietal activity was modulated by tactile stimulation to a higher degree than the premotor cortex through effective connectivity with the hand-somatosensory cortex, which suggests different functional roles. These findings constitute the first intracranial electrophysiological characterization of the rubber hand illusion and extend our understanding of the dynamic mechanisms of body ownership.
Project description:Body ownership can be experimentally investigated with the rubber hand illusion (RHI), in which watching a rubber hand stroked synchronously with one's own hidden hand induces a feeling of ownership over the rubber hand. The aim of this study was to investigate response to the RHI in high (N?=?21) and low (N?=?19) hypnotizable individuals in normal waking state and in hypnosis. Response to the RHI was measured via a question on the illusory feeling of ownership and with proprioceptive drift. The Highs expressed an overall feeling of more ownership over the rubber hand in both the normal waking state and hypnosis, although both groups gave higher ownership scores after synchronous than after asynchronous stroking and the difference between conditions was similar across groups. Conversely, the proprioceptive drift appeared to be differentially modulated by hypnosis and hypnotic suggestibility: it was increased in the Highs and decreased in the Lows after hypnosis induction. These findings hint at an interplay between hypnotic suggestibility and hypnosis in modulating response to the RHI. The selective breakdown of proprioceptive drift among the Lows suggests resistance to recalibrate one's own limb in hypnosis.
Project description:The question of how we attribute observed body parts as our own, and the consequences of this attribution on our sensory-motor processes, is fundamental to understand how our brain distinguishes between self and other. Previous studies have identified interactions between the illusion of ownership, and multi-sensory integration and cross-sensory predictions by the brain. Here we show that illusory ownership additionally modifies the motor-sensory predictions by the brain. In our preliminary experiments, we observed a new numbness illusion following the classical rubber-hand illusion (RHI); brushing only the rubber hand after induction of the RHI results in illusory numbness in one's real hand. Previous studies have shown that self-generated actions (like tickling) are attenuated by motor-sensory predictions by the so-called forward model. Motivated by this finding, here we examined whether the numbness illusion after the RHI is different when the rubber hand is brushed oneself, compared with when the brushing is performed by another. We observed that, all other conditions remaining the same, haptic perception in the real hand was lower (numbness higher) during self-generated brushing. Our result suggests that RHI reorganizes the forward model, such that we predict haptic consequences of self-generated motor actions on the rubber hand.
Project description:The experience of our body as our own (i.e. body ownership) involves integrating different sensory signals according to their contextual relevance (i.e. multisensory integration). Until recently, most studies of multisensory integration and body ownership concerned only vision, touch and proprioception; the role of other modalities, such as the vestibular system and interoception, has been neglected and remains poorly understood. In particular, no study to date has directly explored the combined effect of vestibular and interoceptive signals on body ownership. Here, we investigated for the first time how Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (left, right, sham), tactile affectivity (a reclassified interoceptive modality manipulated by applying touch at C-tactile optimal versus non-optimal velocities), and their combination, influence proprioceptive and subjective measures of body ownership during a rubber hand illusion paradigm with healthy participants (N?=?26). Our results show that vestibular stimulation (left GVS) significantly increased proprioceptive drift towards the rubber hand during mere visual exposure to the rubber hand. Moreover, it also enhanced participants' proprioceptive drift towards the rubber hand during manipulations of synchronicity and affective touch. These findings suggest that the vestibular system influences multisensory integration, possibly by re-weighting both the two-way relationship between proprioception and vision, as well as the three-way relationship between proprioception, vision and affective touch. We discuss these findings in relation to current predictive coding models of multisensory integration and body ownership.
Project description:Body ownership (the feeling that one's body belongs to oneself) is commonly studied with Rubber hand illusion (RHI) paradigm that allows inducing a temporary illusory feeling of ownership of a life-sized rubber hand. However, it remains unclear whether illusory ownership of the fake hand relies on the same mechanisms as ownership of one's own real hand. Here, we directly compared ownership of the own hand (OH) and fake hand (FH) in the same set of conditions within immersive virtual reality. We obtained behavioral (proprioceptive drift) and subjective (questionnaire) measures of ownership and disownership for virtual OH, FH and object (Obj) that were located congruently or incongruently with the participant's real hand and were stimulated synchronously or asynchronously with the real hand. Both OH and FH (but not Obj) were embodied after synchronous stimulation in both locations. Crucially, subjective ownership of the OH was stronger than of the FH in congruent location after synchronous stimulation. It was also present after asynchronous stimulation, being stronger when the virtual OH was subjectively more similar to the real hand. The results suggest that the detailed appearance of the body might act as an additional component in the construction of body ownership.
Project description:A weakened sense of self may contribute to psychotic experiences. Body ownership, one component of self-awareness, can be studied with the rubber hand illusion (RHI). Watching a rubber hand being stroked while one's unseen hand is stroked synchronously can lead to a sense of ownership over the rubber hand, a shift in perceived position of the real hand, and a limb-specific drop in stimulated hand temperature. We aimed to assess the RHI in schizophrenia using quantifiable measures: proprioceptive drift and stimulation-dependent changes in hand temperature.The RHI was elicited in 24 schizophrenia patients and 21 matched controls by placing their unseen hand adjacent to a visible rubber hand and brushing real and rubber hands synchronously or asynchronously. Perceived finger location was measured before and after stimulation. Hand temperature was taken before and during stimulation. Subjective strength of the illusion was assessed by a questionnaire.Across groups, the RHI was stronger during synchronous stimulation, indicated by self-report and proprioceptive drift. Patients reported a stronger RHI than controls. Self-reported strength of RHI was associated with schizotypy in controls Proprioceptive drift was larger in patients, but only following synchronous stimulation. Further, we observed stimulation-dependent changes in skin temperature. During right hand stimulation, temperature dropped in the stimulated hand and rose in the unstimulated hand. Interestingly, induction of RHI led to an out-of-body experience in one patient, linking body disownership and psychotic experiences.The RHI is quantitatively and qualitatively stronger in schizophrenia. These findings suggest that patients have a more flexible body representation and weakened sense of self, and potentially indicate abnormalities in temporo-parietal networks implicated in body ownership. Further, results suggest that these body ownership disturbances might be at the heart of a subset of the pathognomonic delusions of passivity.
Project description:The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is one of the most commonly used paradigms to examine the sense of body ownership. Touches are synchronously applied to the real hand, hidden from view, and a false hand in an anatomically congruent position. During the illusion one may perceive that the feeling of touch arises from the false hand (referral of touch), and that the false hand is one's own. The relationship between referral of touch and body ownership in the illusion is unclear, and some articles average responses to statements addressing these experiences, which may be inappropriate depending on the research question of interest. To address these concerns, we re-analyzed three freely available datasets to better understand the relationship between referral of touch and feeling of ownership in the RHI. We found that most participants who report a feeling of ownership also report referral of touch, and that referral of touch and ownership show a moderately strong positive relationship that was highly replicable. In addition, referral of touch tends to be reported more strongly and more frequently than the feeling of ownership over the hand. The former observations confirm that referral of touch and ownership are related experiences in the RHI. The latter, however, indicate that when pooling the statements one may obtain a higher number of illusion 'responders' compared to considering the ownership statements in isolation. These results have implications for the RHI as an experimental paradigm.
Project description:We manipulated the sense of body ownership with the rubber hand illusion (RHI) to determine if perception of a potentially painful threat to the rubber hand can modify the mechanical pain threshold (MPT). Simultaneous tactile stimulation of the subject's concealed hand and the appropriately positioned visible rubber hand generated the illusion of false body ownership. The MPT was recorded on the left hand of the subjects before and after induction of the RHI, as well as during the phase in which the model hand was pricked with a sharp knife or touched by the blunt knife handle. The results indicate that the RHI could be successfully generated with our set-up. Mechanical stimuli were perceived as more painful in the condition where the rubber hand was simultaneously pricked with a knife. Our findings suggest that the illusion of body ownership gates nociceptive processing of potentially painful stimuli.
Project description:To study body ownership and control, illusions that elicit these feelings in non-body objects are widely used. Classically introduced with the Rubber Hand Illusion, these illusions have been replicated more recently in virtual reality and by using brain-computer interfaces. Traditionally these illusions investigate the replacement of a body part by an artificial counterpart, however as brain-computer interface research develops it offers us the possibility to explore the case where non-body objects are controlled in addition to movements of our own limbs. Therefore we propose a new illusion designed to test the feeling of ownership and control of an independent supernumerary hand. Subjects are under the impression they control a virtual reality hand via a brain-computer interface, but in reality there is no causal connection between brain activity and virtual hand movement but correct movements are observed with 80% probability. These imitation brain-computer interface trials are interspersed with movements in both the subjects' real hands, which are in view throughout the experiment. We show that subjects develop strong feelings of ownership and control over the third hand, despite only receiving visual feedback with no causal link to the actual brain signals. Our illusion is crucially different from previously reported studies as we demonstrate independent ownership and control of the third hand without loss of ownership in the real hands.