2009-kammers-jcogneuro

In the well-known rubber hand illusion (RHI), watching a rubber hand being stroked while one’s own unseen hand is synchronously stroked, induces a relocation of the sensed position of one’s own hand towards the rubber hand. As one has lost the veridical location of one’s hand, one should not be able to correctly guide one’s hand movements. An accurate representation of the location of body parts is indeed a necessary pre-requisite for any correct motor command. However, it has not yet been investigated whether action is indeed affected by the proprioceptive drift towards the rubber hand, nor has the resistance of visual capture in the RHI to new proprioceptive information been assessed. In the present two kinematic experiments, we show for the first time that action resists the RHI and that the RHI resists action. In other words, we show a dissociation between illusion-insensitive ballistic motor responses and illusion-sensitive perceptual bodily judgments. Moreover, the stimulated hand was judged closer to the rubber hand for the perceptual responses, even after active movements. This challenges the view that any proprioceptive update through active movement of the stimulated hand erases the illusion. These results expand the knowledge about representations of the body in the healthy brain, and are in line with the currently most used dissociation between two types of body representations so far mainly based on neuropsychological patients.