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      The Digital Rubber Hand Illusion

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      Proceedings of the 31st International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (HCI 2017) (HCI)

      digital make-believe, with delegates considering our expansive

      3 - 6 July 2017

      Rubber hand illusion, digital media, virtual reality, body ownership illusions

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          The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is a body ownership illusion whereby congruently stroking a fake rubber hand and a subject’s hidden hand while observing the rubber hand produces the illusion of them feeling the touch on the rubber hand and experiencing the rubber hand to be part of their own body. The parameters of the RHI have not been fully defined and we describe an approach utilising digital media and technology to examine and establish parameters for this illusion beginning with three experiments: (i) Repeating the original RHI to determine if our test conditions are conducive to producing the classic illusion. (ii) Replacing the original rubber hand with either a static or animated digital image of it displayed on a tablet. (iii) A VR implementation whereby participants see an image of their own hand viewed through a head-mounted display. Measurements of proprioceptive drift (an objective indicator of the feeling of ownership of the rubber hand) corroborated the original RHI and also suggested that a similar phenomenon can occur when the rubber hand was replaced with either a static or animated digital image of it or in a VR condition.

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

          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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            The moving rubber hand illusion revisited: comparing movements and visuotactile stimulation to induce illusory ownership.

            The rubber hand illusion is a perceptual illusion in which a model hand is experienced as part of one's own body. In the present study we directly compared the classical illusion, based on visuotactile stimulation, with a rubber hand illusion based on active and passive movements. We examined the question of which combinations of sensory and motor cues are the most potent in inducing the illusion by subjective ratings and an objective measure (proprioceptive drift). In particular, we were interested in whether the combination of afferent and efferent signals in active movements results in the same illusion as in the purely passive modes. Our results show that the illusion is equally strong in all three cases. This demonstrates that different combinations of sensory input can lead to a very similar phenomenological experience and indicates that the illusion can be induced by any combination of multisensory information. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Over my fake body: body ownership illusions for studying the multisensory basis of own-body perception

              Which is my body and how do I distinguish it from the bodies of others, or from objects in the surrounding environment? The perception of our own body and more particularly our sense of body ownership is taken for granted. Nevertheless, experimental findings from body ownership illusions (BOIs), show that under specific multisensory conditions, we can experience artificial body parts or fake bodies as our own body parts or body, respectively. The aim of the present paper is to discuss how and why BOIs are induced. We review several experimental findings concerning the spatial, temporal, and semantic principles of crossmodal stimuli that have been applied to induce BOIs. On the basis of these principles, we discuss theoretical approaches concerning the underlying mechanism of BOIs. We propose a conceptualization based on Bayesian causal inference for addressing how our nervous system could infer whether an object belongs to our own body, using multisensory, sensorimotor, and semantic information, and we discuss how this can account for several experimental findings. Finally, we point to neural network models as an implementational framework within which the computational problem behind BOIs could be addressed in the future.

                Author and article information

                July 2017
                July 2017
                : 1-5
                Edinburgh Napier University

                10 Colinton Road

                Edinburgh. EH10 5DT. UK
                © Aldhous et al. Published by BCS Learning and Development Ltd. Proceedings of British HCI 2017 - Digital Make-Believe. Sunderland, UK.

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

                Proceedings of the 31st International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (HCI 2017)
                Sunderland, UK
                3 - 6 July 2017
                Electronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
                digital make-believe, with delegates considering our expansive
                Product Information: 1477-9358BCS Learning & Development
                Self URI (journal page):
                Electronic Workshops in Computing


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