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Staying in touch with our bodies: Stronger sense of ownership during self- compared to other touch despite temporal mismatches


Roel Lesur, Marte; Weijs, Marieke Lieve; Nguyen, Thi Dao; Lenggenhager, Bigna (2021). Staying in touch with our bodies: Stronger sense of ownership during self- compared to other touch despite temporal mismatches. Cognition, 214:104769.

Abstract

Self-touch is considered important for bodily self-consciousness and self-other distinction and has been reported to improve clinical symptoms of disembodiment. To investigate the link between self-touch and disembodiment in healthy participants, we studied the effect of self-touch versus touch produced by another person (other-touch) on experimentally induced disembodiment. In a mixed reality paradigm, across two experiments, participants could see their own body and surroundings with a controllable visual delay and either stroked their own hand with a paintbrush or were stroked with it by the experimenter. Experiment 1 first assessed the sensitivity to temporal multimodal mismatches and delay-induced changes in the sense of body ownership in three conditions, namely self-touch, other-touch and hidden-self-touch (visually occluding the touching hand). In a second block, we compared phenomenological and physiological (threat response) measures of disembodiment between the self-touch and other-touch conditions. Experiment 2 roughly replicated the first block of Experiment 1 but included a condition in which participants performed the self-touch gesture without touching their hand. Such experiment attempted to control for the potential role of efferent signals. Our results show that increasing visual delay generally enhances the feeling of disembodiment, yet the decrease of body ownership is less pronounced during self-touch. For sensitivity to delay between conditions, however, diverging findings are discussed. This study provides evidence for the importance of self-touch in sustaining a healthy sense of body in the context of disembodiment.

Abstract

Self-touch is considered important for bodily self-consciousness and self-other distinction and has been reported to improve clinical symptoms of disembodiment. To investigate the link between self-touch and disembodiment in healthy participants, we studied the effect of self-touch versus touch produced by another person (other-touch) on experimentally induced disembodiment. In a mixed reality paradigm, across two experiments, participants could see their own body and surroundings with a controllable visual delay and either stroked their own hand with a paintbrush or were stroked with it by the experimenter. Experiment 1 first assessed the sensitivity to temporal multimodal mismatches and delay-induced changes in the sense of body ownership in three conditions, namely self-touch, other-touch and hidden-self-touch (visually occluding the touching hand). In a second block, we compared phenomenological and physiological (threat response) measures of disembodiment between the self-touch and other-touch conditions. Experiment 2 roughly replicated the first block of Experiment 1 but included a condition in which participants performed the self-touch gesture without touching their hand. Such experiment attempted to control for the potential role of efferent signals. Our results show that increasing visual delay generally enhances the feeling of disembodiment, yet the decrease of body ownership is less pronounced during self-touch. For sensitivity to delay between conditions, however, diverging findings are discussed. This study provides evidence for the importance of self-touch in sustaining a healthy sense of body in the context of disembodiment.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neonatology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Developmental and Educational Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:September 2021
Deposited On:18 Jan 2022 09:13
Last Modified:26 Apr 2024 01:38
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0010-0277
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104769
PubMed ID:34015545
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)