Journal Article

Upper limb amputees can be induced to experience a rubber hand as their own

H. Henrik Ehrsson, Birgitta Rosén, Anita Stockselius, Christina Ragnö, Peter Köhler and Göran Lundborg

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 131, issue 12, pages 3443-3452
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online December 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awn297

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We describe how upper limb amputees can be made to experience a rubber hand as part of their own body. This was accomplished by applying synchronous touches to the stump, which was out of view, and to the index finger of a rubber hand, placed in full view (26 cm medial to the stump). This elicited an illusion of sensing touch on the artificial hand, rather than on the stump and a feeling of ownership of the rubber hand developed. This effect was supported by quantitative subjective reports in the form of questionnaires, behavioural data in the form of misreaching in a pointing task when asked to localize the position of the touch, and physiological evidence obtained by skin conductance responses when threatening the hand prosthesis. Our findings outline a simple method for transferring tactile sensations from the stump to a prosthetic limb by tricking the brain, thereby making an important contribution to the field of neuroprosthetics where a major goal is to develop artificial limbs that feel like a real parts of the body.

Keywords: limb ownership; prosthetics; body representation; plasticity; illusion; referred sensation

Journal Article.  7479 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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