Toward a Cognitive Model of the Sense of Embodiment in a (Rubber) Hand

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The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is the experience of an artificial body part as being a real body part and the experience of touch coming from that artificial body part. An explanation of this illusion would take significant steps towards explaining the experience of embodiment. I present a new cognitive model to explain the RHI. I argue that the sense of embodiment arises when an online representation of the candidate body part is represented as matching an offline prototype representation of what one's body is usually like. The cause of the sense of embodiment in the model body part only partially overlaps with the causes of proprioceptive drift, which commonly accompanies the RHI, and so is compatible with observed dissociations between the illusion and proprioceptive drift. The distinguishing features of this model are the offline body representation, and the process of matching an online model to an offline model, both of which are to be understood in terms of a conceptual space.

Keywords: RHI; Rubber hand illusion; body experience; selfconsciousness; sense of embodiment

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: January 1, 2013

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