Role of Body Awareness

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In this article, we explore the effect of a modification of one aspect of body awareness, the so-called sense of body-ownership, on pain perception. In order to do so, we modify body-ownership in healthy participants by using a visuo-tactile illusion called the 'rubber hand illusion'(RHI).We combine the classical experimental paradigm of the RHI with a method to induce pain by thermal stimulation. We present and discuss two experiments that show interesting but conflicting results. In the first experiment our results show the RHI has the effect of decreasing pain estimations, whereas in the second experiment the RHI has the effect of increasing pain estimations. We discuss the different factors that could be involved in this difference, and suggest that different types of changes in participants' body schema might have been involved in the two experiments. We propose that an approach that considers participants' subjective experience of the illusion will help us to solve this puzzle.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception CNRS UMR 8158, Universite Paris Descartes, Paris, France, Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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