Toward a Cognitive Model of the Sense of Embodiment in a (Rubber) Hand

Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (3-4):3 - 4 (2013)

Glenn Carruthers
Charles Sturt University
The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is the experience of an artificial body part as being a real body part and the experience of touch coming from that artificial body part. An explanation of this illusion would take significant steps towards explaining the experience of embodiment in one’s own body. I present a new cognitive model to explain the RHI. I argue that the sense of embodiment arises when an on-line representation of the candidate body part is represented as matching an off-line prototype representation of what one’s body is usually like. The cause of the sense of embodiment in the model body part only partially overlaps with the causes of proprioceptive drift, which commonly accompanies the RHI, and so is compatible with observed dissociations between the illusion and proprioceptive drift. The distinguishing features of this model are the off-line body representation, and the process of matching an on-line model to an off-line model, both of which are to be understood in terms of a conceptual space. Key Words: Rubber Hand Illusion; RHI; Sense of Embodiment; Self Consciousness; Body Experience
Keywords self consciousness  consciousness  sense of embodiment  conceptual space  quality space
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