ABSTRACT: Could it be possible that, in the not-so-distant future, we will be able to reshape the human body so as to have extra limbs? A third arm helping us out with the weekly shopping in the local grocery store, or an extra artificial limb assisting a paralysed person? Here we report a perceptual illusion in which a rubber right hand, placed beside the real hand in full view of the participant, is perceived as a supernumerary limb belonging to the participant's own body. This effect was supported by questionnaire data in conjunction with physiological evidence obtained from skin conductance responses when physically threatening either the rubber hand or the real one. In four well-controlled experiments, we demonstrate the minimal required conditions for the elicitation of this "supernumerary hand illusion". In the fifth, and final experiment, we show that the illusion reported here is qualitatively different from the traditional rubber hand illusion as it is characterised by less disownership of the real hand and a stronger feeling of having two right hands. These results suggest that the artificial hand 'borrows' some of the multisensory processes that represent the real hand, leading to duplication of touch and ownership of two right arms. This work represents a major advance because it challenges the traditional view of the gross morphology of the human body as a fundamental constraint on what we can come to experience as our physical self, by showing that the body representation can easily be updated to incorporate an additional limb.
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:Reports on patients who lack ownership over their entire body are extremely rare. Here, we present patient SA who suffered from complete body disownership after a tumour resection in the right temporoparietal cortex. Neuropsychological assessment disclosed selective bilateral ownership problems, despite intact primary visual and somatosensory senses. SA's disownership seems to stem from a suboptimal multimodal integration, as shown by the rubber hand illusion and the beneficial effect during and after simple exercises aiming at multisensory recalibration.
Project description:The sense of body ownership represents a fundamental aspect of our self-awareness, but is disrupted in many neurological, psychiatric, and psychological conditions that are also characterized by disruption of skin temperature regulation, sometimes in a single limb. We hypothesized that skin temperature in a specific limb could be disrupted by psychologically disrupting the sense of ownership of that limb. In six separate experiments, and by using an established protocol to induce the rubber hand illusion, we demonstrate that skin temperature of the real hand decreases when we take ownership of an artificial counterpart. The decrease in skin temperature is limb-specific: it does not occur in the unstimulated hand, nor in the ipsilateral foot. The effect is not evoked by tactile or visual input per se, nor by simultaneous tactile and visual input per se, nor by a shift in attention toward the experimental side or limb. In fact, taking ownership of an artificial hand slows tactile processing of information from the real hand, which is also observed in patients who demonstrate body disownership after stroke. These findings of psychologically induced limb-specific disruption of temperature regulation provide the first evidence that: taking ownership of an artificial body part has consequences for the real body part; that the awareness of our physical self and the physiological regulation of self are closely linked in a top-down manner; and that cognitive processes that disrupt the sense of body ownership may in turn disrupt temperature regulation in numerous states characterized by both.
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:BACKGROUND: While the sense of bodily ownership has now been widely investigated through the rubber hand illusion (RHI), very little is known about the sense of disownership. It has been hypothesized that the RHI also affects the ownership feelings towards the participant's own hand, as if the rubber hand replaced the participant's actual hand. Somatosensory changes observed in the participants' hand while experiencing the RHI have been taken as evidence for disownership of their real hand. Here we propose a theoretical framework to disambiguate whether such somatosensory changes are to be ascribed to the disownership of the real hand or rather to the anomalous visuo-proprioceptive conflict experienced by the participant during the RHI. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In experiment 1, reaction times (RTs) to tactile stimuli delivered to the participants' hand slowed down following the establishment of the RHI. In experiment 2, the misalignment of visual and proprioceptive inputs was obtained via prismatic displacement, a situation in which ownership of the seen hand was doubtless. This condition slowed down the participants' tactile RTs. Thus, similar effects on touch perception emerged following RHI and prismatic displacement. Both manipulations also induced a proprioceptive drift, toward the fake hand in the first experiment and toward the visual position of the participants' hand in the second experiment. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These findings reveal that somatosensory alterations in the experimental hand resulting from the RHI result from cross-modal mismatch between the seen and felt position of the hand. As such, they are not necessarily a signature of disownership.
Project description:More than 100 papers have been published on the rubber hand illusion since its discovery 14 years ago. The illusion has been proposed as a demonstration that the body is distinguished from other objects by its participation in specific forms of intermodal perceptual correlation. Here, we radically challenge this view by claiming that perceptual correlation is not necessary to produce the experience of this body as mine. Each of 15 participants was seated with his/her right arm resting upon a table just below another smaller table. Thus, the real hand was hidden from the participant's view and a life-sized rubber model of a right hand was placed on the small table in front of the participant. The participant observed the experimenter's hand while approaching--without touching--the rubber hand. Phenomenology of the illusion was measured by means of skin conductance response and questionnaire. Both measures indicated that participants experienced the illusion that the experimenter's hand was about to touch their hidden hand rather than the rubber hand, as if the latter replaced their own hand. This did not occur when the rubber hand was rotated by 180° or replaced by a piece of wood. This illusion indicates that our brain does not build a sense of self in a merely reactive way, via perceptual correlations; rather it generates predictions on what may or may not belong to itself.
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.
Project description:A question still debated within cognitive neuroscience is whether signals present during actions significantly contribute to the emergence of human's body ownership. In the present study, we aimed at answer this question by means of a neuropsychological approach. We administered the classical rubber hand illusion paradigm to a group of healthy participants and to a group of neurological patients affected by a complete left upper limb hemiplegia, but without any propriceptive/tactile deficits. The illusion strength was measured both subjectively (i.e., by a self-report questionnaire) and behaviorally (i.e., the location of one's own hand is shifted towards the rubber hand). We aimed at examining whether, and to which extent, an enduring absence of movements related signals affects body ownership. Our results showed that patients displayed, respect to healthy participants, stronger illusory effects when the left (affected) hand was stimulated and no effects when the right (unaffected) hand was stimulated. In other words, hemiplegics had a weaker/more flexible sense of body ownership for the affected hand, but an enhanced/more rigid one for the healthy hand. Possible interpretations of such asymmetrical distribution of body ownership, as well as limits of our results, are discussed. Broadly speaking, our findings suggest that the alteration of the normal flow of signals present during movements impacts on human's body ownership. This in turn, means that movements have a role per se in developing and maintaining a coherent body ownership.
Project description:An illusory sensation of ownership over a surrogate limb or whole body can be induced through specific forms of multisensory stimulation, such as synchronous visuotactile tapping on the hidden real and visible rubber hand in the rubber hand illusion. Such methods have been used to induce ownership over a manikin and a virtual body that substitute the real body, as seen from first-person perspective, through a head-mounted display. However, the perceptual and behavioral consequences of such transformed body ownership have hardly been explored. In Exp. 1, immersive virtual reality was used to embody 30 adults as a 4-y-old child (condition C), and as an adult body scaled to the same height as the child (condition A), experienced from the first-person perspective, and with virtual and real body movements synchronized. The result was a strong body-ownership illusion equally for C and A. Moreover there was an overestimation of the sizes of objects compared with a nonembodied baseline, which was significantly greater for C compared with A. An implicit association test showed that C resulted in significantly faster reaction times for the classification of self with child-like compared with adult-like attributes. Exp. 2 with an additional 16 participants extinguished the ownership illusion by using visuomotor asynchrony, with all else equal. The size-estimation and implicit association test differences between C and A were also extinguished. We conclude that there are perceptual and probably behavioral correlates of body-ownership illusions that occur as a function of the type of body in which embodiment occurs.
Project description:Altering the normal association between touch and its visual correlate can result in the illusory perception of a fake limb as part of our own body. Thus, when touch is seen to be applied to a rubber hand while felt synchronously on the corresponding hidden real hand, an illusion of ownership of the rubber hand usually occurs. The illusion has also been demonstrated using visuomotor correlation between the movements of the hidden real hand and the seen fake hand. This type of paradigm has been used with respect to the whole body generating out-of-the-body and body substitution illusions. However, such studies have only ever manipulated a single factor and although they used a form of virtual reality have not exploited the power of immersive virtual reality (IVR) to produce radical transformations in body ownership.Here we show that a first person perspective of a life-sized virtual human female body that appears to substitute the male subjects' own bodies was sufficient to generate a body transfer illusion. This was demonstrated subjectively by questionnaire and physiologically through heart-rate deceleration in response to a threat to the virtual body. This finding is in contrast to earlier experimental studies that assume visuotactile synchrony to be the critical contributory factor in ownership illusions. Our finding was possible because IVR allowed us to use a novel experimental design for this type of problem with three independent binary factors: (i) perspective position (first or third), (ii) synchronous or asynchronous mirror reflections and (iii) synchrony or asynchrony between felt and seen touch.The results support the notion that bottom-up perceptual mechanisms can temporarily override top down knowledge resulting in a radical illusion of transfer of body ownership. The research also illustrates immersive virtual reality as a powerful tool in the study of body representation and experience, since it supports experimental manipulations that would otherwise be infeasible, with the technology being mature enough to represent human bodies and their motion.