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      Moving a Rubber Hand that Feels Like Your Own: A Dissociation of Ownership and Agency


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          During voluntary hand movement, we sense that we generate the movement and that the hand is a part of our body. These feelings of control over bodily actions, or the sense of agency, and the ownership of body parts are two fundamental aspects of the way we consciously experience our bodies. However, little is known about how these processes are functionally linked. Here, we introduce a version of the rubber hand illusion in which participants control the movements of the index finger of a model hand, which is in full view, by moving their own right index finger. We demonstrated that voluntary finger movements elicit a robust illusion of owning the rubber hand and that the senses of ownership and agency over the model hand can be dissociated. We systematically varied the relative timing of the finger movements (synchronous versus asynchronous), the mode of movement (active versus passive), and the position of the model hand (anatomically congruent versus incongruent positions). Importantly, asynchrony eliminated both ownership and agency, passive movements abolished the sense of agency but left ownership intact, and incongruent positioning of the model hand diminished ownership but did not eliminate agency. These findings provide evidence for a double dissociation of ownership and agency, suggesting that they represent distinct cognitive processes. Interestingly, we also noted that the sense of agency was stronger when the hand was perceived to be a part of the body, and only in this condition did we observe a significant correlation between the subjects’ ratings of agency and ownership. We discuss this in the context of possible differences between agency over owned body parts and agency over actions that involve interactions with external objects. In summary, the results obtained in this study using a simple moving rubber hand illusion paradigm extend previous findings on the experience of ownership and agency and shed new light on their relationship.

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          Most cited references54

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          Principles of sensorimotor learning.

          The exploits of Martina Navratilova and Roger Federer represent the pinnacle of motor learning. However, when considering the range and complexity of the processes that are involved in motor learning, even the mere mortals among us exhibit abilities that are impressive. We exercise these abilities when taking up new activities - whether it is snowboarding or ballroom dancing - but also engage in substantial motor learning on a daily basis as we adapt to changes in our environment, manipulate new objects and refine existing skills. Here we review recent research in human motor learning with an emphasis on the computational mechanisms that are involved.
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            Das Reafferenzprinzip: Wechselwirkungen zwischen Zentralnervensystem und Peripherie

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              Touching a rubber hand: feeling of body ownership is associated with activity in multisensory brain areas.

              In the "rubber-hand illusion," the sight of brushing of a rubber hand at the same time as brushing of the person's own hidden hand is sufficient to produce a feeling of ownership of the fake hand. We shown previously that this illusion is associated with activity in the multisensory areas, most notably the ventral premotor cortex (Ehrsson et al., 2004). However, it remains to be demonstrated that this illusion does not simply reflect the dominant role of vision and that the premotor activity does not reflect a visual representation of an object near the hand. To address these issues, we introduce a somatic rubber-hand illusion. The experimenter moved the blindfolded participant's left index finger so that it touched the fake hand, and simultaneously, he touched the participant's real right hand, synchronizing the touches as perfectly as possible. After approximately 9.7 s, this stimulation elicited an illusion that one was touching one's own hand. We scanned brain activity during this illusion and two control conditions, using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Activity in the ventral premotor cortices, intraparietal cortices, and the cerebellum was associated with the illusion of touching one's own hand. Furthermore, the rated strength of the illusion correlated with the degree of premotor and cerebellar activity. This finding suggests that the activity in these areas reflects the detection of congruent multisensory signals from one's own body, rather than of visual representations. We propose that this could be the mechanism for the feeling of body ownership.

                Author and article information

                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front. Hum. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
                Frontiers Research Foundation
                14 March 2012
                : 6
                [1] 1simpleBrain, Body and Self Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden
                Author notes

                Edited by: Burkhard Pleger, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany

                Reviewed by: Marco Taubert, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany; Mel Slater, University of Barcelona, Spain; Peter Schwenkreis, Universitaetsklinikum Bergmannsheil, Germany; Roger Newport, University of Nottingham, UK

                *Correspondence: Andreas Kalckert, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Retzius väg 8, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden. e-mail: andreas.kalckert@ 123456ki.se
                Copyright © 2012 Kalckert and Ehrsson.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 7, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 82, Pages: 14, Words: 12137
                Original Research

                rubber hand illusion,voluntary movement,sense of agency,body perception,multisensory integration,volition,self-recognition,sense of ownership


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