The robot hand illusion: Inducing proprioceptive drift through visuo-motor congruency
Abstract The representation of one׳s own body sets the border of the self, but also shapes the space where we interact with external objects. Under particular conditions, such as in the rubber hand illusion external objects can be incorporated in one׳s own body representation, following congruent visuo-tactile stroking of one׳s own and a fake hand. This procedure induces an illusory sense of ownership for the fake hand and a shift of proprioceptive localization of the own hand towards the fake hand. Here we investigated whether pure visuo-motor, instead of visuo-tactile, congruency between one׳s own hand and a detached myoelectric-controlled robotic hand can induce similar embodiment effects. We found a shift of proprioceptive hand localization toward the robot hand, only following synchronized real hand/robot hand movements. Notably, no modulation was found of the sense of ownership following either synchronous or asynchronous-movement training. Our findings suggest that visuo-motor synchrony can drive the localization of one׳s own body parts in space, even when somatosensory input is kept constant and the experience of body ownership is maintained.