Body ownership

Here are a few papers looking at this fascinating a relevant area. Our sense of self is clearly affected in many pain states and in other situations when we are under threat. This is an area we address fully as part of our rehabilitation and treatment programmes for CRPS, other chronic pain states and injuries. The loss of a sense of self is underpinned by a range of physiological changes throughout the nervous system and must be re-trained for normal functioning.

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Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2011 Oct;24(5):524-31.

Phantom limb pain and bodily awareness: current concepts and future directions.

Source

aExperimental Neuropsychology Research Unit, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria bSansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia cNeuroscience Research Australia, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

PURPOSE OF REVIEW:

Phantom pain is a frequent consequence of amputation or deafferentation. There are many possible contributing mechanisms, including stump-related pathology, spinal and cortical changes. Phantom limb pain is notoriously difficult to treat. Continued consideration of the factors associated with phantom pain and its treatment is of utmost importance, not only to advance the scientific knowledge about the experience of the body and neuropathic pain, but also fundamentally to promote efficacious pain management.

RECENT FINDINGS:

This review first discusses the mechanisms associated with phantom pain and summarizes the current treatments. The mechanisms underlying phantom pain primarily relate to peripheral/spinal dysfunction, and supraspinal and central plasticity in sensorimotor body representations. The most promising methods for managing phantom pain address the maladaptive changes at multiple levels of the neuraxis, for example, complementing pharmacological administration with physical, psychological or behavioural intervention. These supplementary techniques are even efficacious in isolation, perhaps by replacing the absent afferent signals from the amputated limb, thereby restoring disrupted bodily representations.

SUMMARY:

Ultimately, for optimal patient outcomes, treatments should be both symptom and mechanism targeted.

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J Physiol. 2011 Jun 15;589(Pt 12):3009-21. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

Proprioceptive signals contribute to the sense of body ownership.

Source

Neuroscience Research Australia, Barker Street, Randwick, Sydney, NSW 2031, Australia.

Abstract

The sense of body ownership, knowledge that parts of our body ‘belong’ to us, is presumably developed using sensory information. Cutaneous signals seem ideal for this and can modify the sense of ownership. For example, an illusion of ownership over an artificial rubber hand can be induced by synchronously stroking both the subject’s hidden hand and a visible artificial hand. Like cutaneous signals, proprioceptive signals (e.g. frommuscle receptors) exclusively signal events occurring in the body, but the influence of proprioceptors on the sense of body ownership is not known. We developed a technique to generate an illusion of ownership over an artificial plastic finger, using movement at the proximal interphalangeal joint as the stimulus. We then examined this illusion in 20 subjects when their index finger was intact and when the cutaneous and joint afferents from the finger had been blocked by local anaesthesia of the digital nerves. Subjects still experienced an illusion of ownership, induced by movement, over the plastic finger when the digital nerves were blocked. This shows that local cutaneous signals are not essential for the illusion and that inputs arising proximally, presumably from receptors in muscles which move the finger, can influence the sense of body ownership. Contrary to other studies, we found no evidence that voluntary movements induce stronger illusions of body ownership than those induced by passive movement. It seems that the congruence of sensory stimuli ismore important to establish body ownership than the presence of multiple sensory signals.

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Neuropsychologia. 2010 Feb;48(3):713-25. Epub 2009 Nov 11.

Crossmodal congruency measures of lateral distance effects on the rubber hand illusion.

Source

Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. regine.zopf@maccs.mq.edu.au

Abstract

Body ownership for an artificial hand and the perceived position of one’s own hand can be manipulated in the so-called rubber hand illusion. To induce this illusion, typically an artificial hand is placed next to the participant’s body and stroked in synchrony with the real hand, which is hidden from view. Our first aim was to test if the crossmodal congruency task could be used to obtain a measure for the strength of body ownership in the rubber hand illusion. In this speeded location discrimination task participants responded to tactile targets presented to their index or middle finger, while trying to ignore irrelevant visual distracters placed on the artificial hand either on the congruent finger or on the incongruent finger. The difference between performance on congruent and incongruent trials (crossmodal congruency effect, CCE) indicates the amount of multisensory interactions between tactile targets and visual distracters. In order to investigate if changes in body ownership influence the CCE, we manipulated ownership for an artificial hand by synchronous and asynchronous stroking before the crossmodal congruency task (blocked design) in Experiment 1 and during the crossmodal congruency task (interleaved trial-by-trial design) in Experiment 2. Modulations of the CCE by ownership for an artificial hand were apparent in the interleaved trial-by-trial design. These findings suggest that the CCE can be used as an objective measure for body ownership. Secondly, we tested the hypothesis that the lateral spatial distance between the real hand and artificial hand limits the rubber hand illusion. We found no lateral spatial limits for the rubber hand illusion created by synchronous stroking within reaching distances. In conclusion, the sense of ownership seems to be related to modulations of multisensory interactions possibly through peripersonal space mechanisms, and these modulations do not appear to be limited by an increase in distance between artificial hand and real hand.

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Neuropsychologia. 2010 Feb;48(3):703-12. Epub 2009 Oct 9.

My body in the brain: a neurocognitive model of body-ownership.

Source

Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK. manos.tsakiris@rhul.ac.uk

Abstract

Empirical research on the bodily self has only recently started to investigate how the link between a body and the experience of this body as mine is developed, maintained or disturbed. The Rubber Hand Illusion has been used as a model instance of the normal sense of embodiment to investigate the processes that underpin the experience of body-ownership. This review puts forward a neurocognitive model according to which body-ownership arises as an interaction between current multisensory input and internal models of the body. First, a pre-existing stored model of the body distinguishes between objects that may or may not be part of one’s body. Second, on-line anatomical and postural representations of the body modulate the integration of multisensory information that leads to the recalibration of visual and tactile coordinate systems. Third, the resulting referral of tactile sensation will give rise to the subjective experience of body-ownership. These processes involve a neural network comprised of the right temporoparietal junction which tests the incorporeability of the external object, the secondary somatosensory cortex which maintains an on-line representation of the body, the posterior parietal and ventral premotor cortices which code for the recalibration of the hand-centred coordinate systems, and the right posterior insula which underpins the subjective experience of body-ownership. The experience of body-ownership may represent a critical component of self-specificity as evidenced by the different ways in which multisensory integration in interaction with internal models of the body can actually manipulate important physical and psychological aspects of the self.

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Cereb Cortex. 2007 Oct;17(10):2235-44. Epub 2006 Nov 30.

Neural signatures of body ownership: a sensory network for bodily self-consciousness.

Source

Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK. e.tsakiris@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Body ownership refers to the special perceptual status of one’s own body, which makes bodily sensations seem unique to oneself. We studied the neural correlates of body ownership by controlling whether an external object was accepted as part of the body or not. In the rubber hand illusion (RHI), correlated visuotactile stimulation causes a fake hand to be perceived as part of one’s own body. In the present study, we distinguished between the causes (i.e., multisensory stimulation) and the effect (i.e., the feeling of ownership) of the RHI. Participants watched a right or a left rubber hand being touched either synchronously or asynchronously with respect to their own unseen right hand. A quantifiable correlate of the RHI is a shift in the perceived position of the subject’s hand toward the rubber hand. We used positron emission tomography to identify brain areas whose activity correlated with this proprioceptive measure of body ownership. Body ownership was related to activity in the right posterior insula and the right frontal operculum. Conversely, when the rubber hand was not attributed to the self, activity was observed in the contralateral parietal cortex, particularly the somatosensory cortex. These structures form a network that plays a fundamental role in linking current sensory stimuli to one’s own body and thus also in self-consciousness.

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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Apr;1225:72-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.05990.x.

Significance of the insula for the evolution of human awareness of feelings from the body.

Source

Atkinson Research Laboratory, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. bcraig@chw.edu

Abstract

An ascending sensory pathway that underlies feelings from the body, such as cooling or toothache, terminates in the posterior insula. Considerable evidence suggests that this activity is rerepresented and integrated first in the mid-insula and then in the anterior insula. Activation in the anterior insula correlates directly with subjective feelings from the body and, strikingly, with all emotional feelings. These findings appear to signify a posterior-to-anterior sequence of increasingly homeostatically efficient representations that integrate all salient neural activity, culminating in network nodes in the right and left anterior insulae that may be organized asymmetrically in an opponent fashion. The anterior insula has appropriate characteristics to support the proposal that it engenders a cinemascopic model of human awareness and subjectivity. This review presents the author’s views regarding the principles of organization of this system and discusses a possible sequence for its evolution, as well as particular issues of historical interest.

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Brain Struct Funct. 2010 Jun;214(5-6):563-77. Epub 2010 May 29.

The sentient self.

Source

Atkinson Research Laboratory, Barrow Neurological Institute, 350 West Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85013, USA. bcraig@chw.edu

Abstract

This article addresses the neuroanatomical evidence for a progression of integrative representations of affective feelings from the body that lead to an ultimate representation of all feelings in the bilateral anterior insulae, or “the sentient self.” Evidence for somatotopy in the primary interoceptive sensory cortex is presented, and the organization of the mid-insula and the anterior insula is discussed. Issues that need to be addressed are highlighted. A possible basis for subjectivity in a cinemascopic model of awareness is presented.

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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 Jan;10(1):59-70.

How do you feel–now? The anterior insula and human awareness.

Source

Atkinson Research Laboratory, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona 85013, USA. bcraig@chw.edu

Abstract

The anterior insular cortex (AIC) is implicated in a wide range of conditions and behaviours, from bowel distension and orgasm, to cigarette craving and maternal love, to decision making and sudden insight. Its function in the re-representation of interoception offers one possible basis for its involvement in all subjective feelings. New findings suggest a fundamental role for the AIC (and the von Economo neurons it contains) in awareness, and thus it needs to be considered as a potential neural correlate of consciousness.

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