When the apparent visual location of a body part conflicts with its veridical location, vision can dominate proprioception and kinesthesia. In this article, we show that vision can capture tactile localization. Participants discriminated the location of vibrotactile stimuli (upper, at the index finger, vs. lower, at the thumb), while ignoring distractor lights that could independently be upper or lower. Such tactile discriminations were slowed when the distractor light was incongruent with the tactile target (e.g., an upper light during lower touch) rather than congruent, especially when the lights appeared near the stimulated hand. The hands were occluded under a table, with all distractor lights above the table. The effect of the distractor lights increased when rubber hands were placed on the table, ‘holding’ the distractor lights, but only when the rubber hands were spatially aligned with the participant's own hands. In this aligned situation, participants were more likely to report the illusion of feeling touch at the rubber hands. Such visual capture of touch appears cognitively impenetrable.
Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università degli Studi di Bologna, Bologna, Italy; Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 2:
Department of Psychology, University of Oxford, 3:
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London