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Illusory Body Ownership Affects the Cortical Response to Vicarious Somatosensation


Pamplona, Gustavo S P; Salgado, Julio A D; Staempfli, Philipp; Seifritz, Erich; Gassert, Roger; Ionta, Silvio (2022). Illusory Body Ownership Affects the Cortical Response to Vicarious Somatosensation. Cerebral Cortex, 32(2):312-328.

Abstract

Fundamental human feelings such as body ownership (“this” body is “my” body) and vicariousness (first-person-like experience of events occurring to others) are based on multisensory integration. Behavioral links between body ownership and vicariousness have been shown, but the neural underpinnings remain largely unexplored. To fill this gap, we investigated the neural effects of altered body ownership on vicarious somatosensation. While recording functional brain imaging data, first, we altered participants’ body ownership by robotically delivering tactile stimulations (“tactile” stroking) in synchrony or not with videos of a virtual hand being brushed (“visual” stroking). Then, we manipulated vicarious somatosensation by showing videos of the virtual hand being touched by a syringe’s plunger (touch) or needle (pain). Only after the alteration of body ownership (synchronous visuo-tactile stroking) and specifically during late epochs of vicarious somatosensation, vicarious pain was associated with lower activation in premotor and anterior cingulate cortices with respect to vicarious touch. At the methodological level, the present study highlights the importance of the neural response’s temporal evolution. At the theoretical level, it shows that the higher-level (cognitive) impact of a lower-level (sensory) body-related processing (visuo-tactile) is not limited to body ownership but also extends to other psychological body-related domains, such as vicarious somatosensation.

Abstract

Fundamental human feelings such as body ownership (“this” body is “my” body) and vicariousness (first-person-like experience of events occurring to others) are based on multisensory integration. Behavioral links between body ownership and vicariousness have been shown, but the neural underpinnings remain largely unexplored. To fill this gap, we investigated the neural effects of altered body ownership on vicarious somatosensation. While recording functional brain imaging data, first, we altered participants’ body ownership by robotically delivering tactile stimulations (“tactile” stroking) in synchrony or not with videos of a virtual hand being brushed (“visual” stroking). Then, we manipulated vicarious somatosensation by showing videos of the virtual hand being touched by a syringe’s plunger (touch) or needle (pain). Only after the alteration of body ownership (synchronous visuo-tactile stroking) and specifically during late epochs of vicarious somatosensation, vicarious pain was associated with lower activation in premotor and anterior cingulate cortices with respect to vicarious touch. At the methodological level, the present study highlights the importance of the neural response’s temporal evolution. At the theoretical level, it shows that the higher-level (cognitive) impact of a lower-level (sensory) body-related processing (visuo-tactile) is not limited to body ownership but also extends to other psychological body-related domains, such as vicarious somatosensation.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Life Sciences > Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:affective; brain; fMRI; multisensory; pain; robotics; sensorimotor; touch.
Language:English
Date:10 January 2022
Deposited On:01 Feb 2023 11:22
Last Modified:28 Apr 2024 01:48
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1047-3211
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhab210
PubMed ID:34240141
Project Information:
  • : FunderSwiss National Science Foundation
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderNational Center of Competence in Research on Neural Plasticity and Repair
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)