The virtual hand illusion in obesity: Dissociation between multisensory interactions supporting illusory experience and self-location recalibration

Sofia Tagini, Federica Scarpina, Francesca Bruni, Massimo Scacchi, Alessandro Mauro, Massimiliano Zampini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) is used widely to investigate the multisensory integration mechanisms that support bodily self-consciousness and, more specifically, body ownership and self-location. It has been reported that individuals affected by obesity show anomalous multisensory integration processes. We propose that these obesity-induced changes could lead to an unusual susceptibility to the RHI and anomalous bodily self-experience. To test this hypothesis, we administered a modified version of the RHI (using a picture of the participant's hand) to individuals affected by obesity and participants with a healthy weight. During synchronous and asynchronous stimulation, we compared the subjective experience of the illusion (using a questionnaire) and the effect of the illusion on self-location (i.e., proprioceptive drift). In accordance with the illusion phenomenology, both groups had a comparable subjective illusory experience after the synchronous stimulation. Nevertheless, individuals affected by obesity showed less recalibration of self-location than healthy weight participants. In light of a recent interpretation of the multisensory integration mechanisms that underpin the RHI, our findings suggest that in obesity visuo-tactile integration supporting the subjective experience of the illusion is preserved, whereas visuo-proprioceptive integration for self-location is reduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-361
Number of pages25
JournalMultisensory research
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Bodily self-consciousness
  • Body representation
  • Multisensory integration
  • Obesity
  • Rubber hand illusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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