Modulation of Bodily Self-Consciousness by Self and External Touch

Masayuki Hara, Noriaki Kanayama, Olaf Blanke, Roy Salomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The full body illusion (FBI) is a bodily illusion based on the application of multisensory conflicts that induce changes in bodily self-consciousness (BSC). This has been used to study cognitive brain mechanisms underlying body ownership and related aspects of self-consciousness. Typically, such paradigms employ external passive multisensory stimulation, thus neglecting the possible contributions of self-generated action and haptic cues to body ownership. In this article, the effects of both external and voluntary self-touch on BSC were examined with a robotics-based FBI paradigm. We compared the effects of classical passive visuotactile stimulation and active self-touch (in which experimental participants had a sense of agency over the tactile stimulation) on the FBI. We evaluated these effects using a questionnaire, crossmodal congruency task, and measurements of changes in self-location. The results indicated that both synchronous passive visuotactile stimulation and synchronous active self-touch induced illusory ownership over a virtual body, without significant differences in their magnitudes. However, the FBI induced by active self-touch was associated with a larger drift in self-location towards the virtual body. These results show that movement-related signals arising from self-touch impact the BSC not only for hand ownership but also for torso-centered body ownership and related aspects of BSC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-625
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Haptics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received September 17, 2020; revised February 1, 2021; accepted March 9, 2021. Date of publication March 22, 2021; date of current version September 16, 2021. This work was supported by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (19H04187) of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The work of Olaf Blanke was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (32003B 144025), the Bertarelli Foundation, and two generous donors advised by CARIGEST SA (Fondazione Teofilo Rossi di Montelera e di Premuda and a second one wishing to remain anonymous). The work of Roy Salomon was supported by the National Center of Competence in Research “SYNAPSY-The Synaptic Bases of Mental Diseases” supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (under Grant 51AU40_125759) and the Israel Science Foundation Grant (1169/17). This article was recommended for publication by Associate Editor Ilana Nisky and Editor-in-Chief Domenico Prattichizzo upon evaluation of the reviewers’ comments. (Corresponding author: Masayuki Hara).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2008-2011 IEEE.


  • Active self-touch
  • cognetics
  • full body illusion
  • sense of agency
  • sense of body ownership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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