Journal article

Spatial aspects of bodily self-consciousness

Visual, somatosensory, and perspectival cues normally provide congruent information about where the self is experienced. Separating those cues by virtual reality techniques, recent studies found that self-location was systematically biased to where a visual-tactile event was seen. Here we developed a novel, repeatable and implicit measure of self-location to compare and extend previous protocols. We investigated illusory self-location and associated phenomenological aspects in a lying body position that facilitates clinically observed abnormal self-location (as on out-of-body experiences). The results confirm that the self is located to where touch is seen. This leads to either predictable lowering or elevation of self-localization, and the latter was accompanied by sensations of floating, as during out-of-body experiences. Using a novel measurement we show that the unitary and localized character of the self can be experimentally separated from both the origin of the visual perspective and the location of the seen body, which is compatible with clinical data.

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