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The rubber hand illusion and its application to clinical neuroscience

      Abstract

      The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is a perceptual experience which often occurs when an administered tactile stimulation of a person’s real hand hidden from view, occurs synchronously with a corresponding visual stimulation of an observed rubber hand placed in full vision of the person in a position corresponding to where their real hand might normally be. The perceptual illusion is that the person feels a sense of “ownership” of the rubber hand which they are looking at. Most studies have focused on the underlying neural properties of the illusion and the experimental manipulations that lead to it. The illusion could also be used for exploring the sense of limb and prosthetic ownership for people after amputation. Cortical electrodes such as those used in sensorimotor stimulation surgery for pain may provide an opportunity to further understand the cortical representation of the illusion and possibly provide an opportunity to modulate the individual’s sense of body ownership. Thus, the RHI might also be a critical tool for development of neurorehabilitative interventions that will be of great interest to the neurosurgical and rehabilitation communities.

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