Two hands are better than one: A new assessment method and a new interpretation of the non-visual illusion of self-touch

Consciousness and Cognition 20 (3):956-964 (2011)
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Abstract

A simple experimental paradigm creates the powerful illusion that one is touching one’s own hand even when the two hands are separated by 15 cm. The participant uses her right hand to administer stimulation to a prosthetic hand while the Examiner provides identical stimulation to the participant’s receptive left hand. Change in felt position of the receptive hand toward the prosthetic hand has previously led to the interpretation that the participant experiences self-touch at the location of the prosthetic hand, and experiences a sense of ownership of the prosthetic hand. Our results argue against this interpretation. We assessed change in felt position of the participant’s receptive hand but we also assessed change in felt position of the participant’s administering hand. Change in felt position of the administering hand was significantly greater than change in felt position of the receptive hand. Implications for theories of ownership are discussed.

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