Forward modelling the rubber hand: illusion of ownership modifies motor-sensory predictions by the brain

Abstract : 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.
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Laura Aymerich-Franch, Damien Petit, Abderrahmane Kheddar, Gowrishankar Ganesh. Forward modelling the rubber hand: illusion of ownership modifies motor-sensory predictions by the brain. Royal Society Open Science, The Royal Society, 2016, 3 (8), pp.#160407. ⟨10.1098/rsos.160407⟩. ⟨lirmm-02155094⟩

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