Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science

Interoception and embodied experience

Experiencing your own body is central to being a conscious self. The famous "rubber hand illusion" demonstrates that the experience of body-ownership can be modulated by manipulating the timing of exteroceptive (visual and tactile) body-related feedback. Another strand of research has shown that bodily experience is also influenced by interoceptive signals coming from within the body. In a recent study, we found that the experience of the body ownership depends on the online integration of exteroceptive and interoceptive signals by implementing an innovative "cardiac rubber hand illusion" that combined computer-generated augmented-reality with feedback of interoceptive (cardiac) information. We combined a depth-sensing infra-red camera and Augmented Reality technologies to manipulate a 3D image of a participant’s hand, based on their own heart beat signals.  We showed that both subjective and objective measures of virtual-hand ownership are enhanced by cardio-visual feedback in-time with the actual heartbeat, as compared to asynchronous feedback.

 

 

Reference

Suzuki, K., Garfinkel, S., Critchley, H.D., and Seth, A.K. (2013). Multisensory integration across exteroceptive and interoceptive domains modulates self-experience in the rubber-hand illusion.  Neuropsychologia 51(13):2909-2917