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      Bodily pleasure matters: velocity of touch modulates body ownership during the rubber hand illusion

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          Abstract

          The sense of body ownership represents a fundamental aspect of our self-consciousness. Influential experimental paradigms, such as the rubber hand illusion (RHI), in which a seen rubber hand is experienced as part of one's body when one's own unseen hand receives congruent tactile stimulation, have extensively examined the role of exteroceptive, multisensory integration on body ownership. However, remarkably, despite the more general current interest in the nature and role of interoception in emotion and consciousness, no study has investigated how the illusion may be affected by interoceptive bodily signals, such as affective touch. Here, we recruited 52 healthy, adult participants and we investigated for the first time, whether applying slow velocity, light tactile stimuli, known to elicit interoceptive feelings of pleasantness, would influence the illusion more than faster, emotionally-neutral, tactile stimuli. We also examined whether seeing another person's hand vs. a rubber hand would reduce the illusion in slow vs. fast stroking conditions, as interoceptive signals are used to represent one's own body from within and it is unclear how they would be integrated with visual signals from another person's hand. We found that slow velocity touch was perceived as more pleasant and it produced higher levels of subjective embodiment during the RHI compared with fast touch. Moreover, this effect applied irrespective of whether the seen hand was a rubber or a confederate's hand. These findings provide support for the idea that affective touch, and more generally interoception, may have a unique contribution to the sense of body ownership, and by implication to our embodied psychological “self.”

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          Most cited references15

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          Interoception: the sense of the physiological condition of the body.

          Converging evidence indicates that primates have a distinct cortical image of homeostatic afferent activity that reflects all aspects of the physiological condition of all tissues of the body. This interoceptive system, associated with autonomic motor control, is distinct from the exteroceptive system (cutaneous mechanoreception and proprioception) that guides somatic motor activity. The primary interoceptive representation in the dorsal posterior insula engenders distinct highly resolved feelings from the body that include pain, temperature, itch, sensual touch, muscular and visceral sensations, vasomotor activity, hunger, thirst, and 'air hunger'. In humans, a meta-representation of the primary interoceptive activity is engendered in the right anterior insula, which seems to provide the basis for the subjective image of the material self as a feeling (sentient) entity, that is, emotional awareness.
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            An Interoceptive Predictive Coding Model of Conscious Presence

            We describe a theoretical model of the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying conscious presence and its disturbances. The model is based on interoceptive prediction error and is informed by predictive models of agency, general models of hierarchical predictive coding and dopaminergic signaling in cortex, the role of the anterior insular cortex (AIC) in interoception and emotion, and cognitive neuroscience evidence from studies of virtual reality and of psychiatric disorders of presence, specifically depersonalization/derealization disorder. The model associates presence with successful suppression by top-down predictions of informative interoceptive signals evoked by autonomic control signals and, indirectly, by visceral responses to afferent sensory signals. The model connects presence to agency by allowing that predicted interoceptive signals will depend on whether afferent sensory signals are determined, by a parallel predictive-coding mechanism, to be self-generated or externally caused. Anatomically, we identify the AIC as the likely locus of key neural comparator mechanisms. Our model integrates a broad range of previously disparate evidence, makes predictions for conjoint manipulations of agency and presence, offers a new view of emotion as interoceptive inference, and represents a step toward a mechanistic account of a fundamental phenomenological property of consciousness.
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              On the other hand: dummy hands and peripersonal space.

              Where are my hands? The brain can answer this question using sensory information arising from vision, proprioception, or touch. Other sources of information about the position of our hands can be derived from multisensory interactions (or potential interactions) with our close environment, such as when we grasp or avoid objects. The pioneering study of multisensory representations of peripersonal space was published in Behavioural Brain Research almost 30 years ago [Rizzolatti G, Scandolara C, Matelli M, Gentilucci M. Afferent properties of periarcuate neurons in macaque monkeys. II. Visual responses. Behav Brain Res 1981;2:147-63]. More recently, neurophysiological, neuroimaging, neuropsychological, and behavioural studies have contributed a wealth of evidence concerning hand-centred representations of objects in peripersonal space. This evidence is examined here in detail. In particular, we focus on the use of artificial dummy hands as powerful instruments to manipulate the brain's representation of hand position, peripersonal space, and of hand ownership. We also review recent studies of the 'rubber hand illusion' and related phenomena, such as the visual capture of touch, and the recalibration of hand position sense, and discuss their findings in the light of research on peripersonal space. Finally, we propose a simple model that situates the 'rubber hand illusion' in the neurophysiological framework of multisensory hand-centred representations of space.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                08 October 2013
                2013
                : 4
                Affiliations
                [1] 1Department of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire London, UK
                [2] 2Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, CEHP Research Department, University College London London, UK
                Author notes

                Edited by: Heather Berlin, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, USA

                Reviewed by: Matthew R. Longo, Birkbeck, University of London, UK; Francis McGlone, Liverpool John Moores University, UK

                *Correspondence: Aikaterini (Katerina) Fotopoulou, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, CEHP Research Department, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB, UK e-mail: a.fotopoulou@ 123456ucl.ac.uk.

                This article was submitted to Consciousness Research, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

                †These authors have shared the senior authorship.

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00703
                3792699
                24115938
                1e811144-734e-4e42-8098-bfb7082cb74e
                Copyright © 2013 Crucianelli, Metcalf, Fotopoulou and Jenkinson.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 36, Pages: 7, Words: 5707
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research Article

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                rubber hand illusion,pleasant touch,interoception,body ownership,embodiment

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