Visuospatial viewpoint manipulation during full-body illusion modulates subjective first-person perspective
Self-consciousness is based on multisensory signals from the body. In full-body illusion (FBI) experiments, multisensory conflict was used to induce changes in three key aspects of bodily self-consciousness (BSC): self-identification (which body 'I' identify with), self-location (where 'I' am located), and first-person perspective (from where 'I' experience the world; 1PP). Here, we adapted a previous FBI protocol in which visuotactile stroking was administered by a robotic device (tactile stroking) and simultaneously rendered on the back of a virtual body (visual stroking) that participants viewed on a head-mounted display as if filmed from a posterior viewpoint of a camera. We compared the effects of two different visuospatial viewpoints on the FBI and thereby on these key aspects of BSC. During control manipulations, participants saw a no-body object instead of a virtual body (first experiment) or received asynchronous versus synchronous visuotactile stroking (second experiment). Results showed that within-subjects visuospatial viewpoint manipulations affected the subjective 1PP ratings if a virtual body was seen but had no effect for viewing a non-body object. However, visuospatial viewpoint had no effect on self-identification, but depended on the viewed object and visuotactile synchrony. Self-location depended on visuospatial viewpoint (first experiment) and visuotactile synchrony (second experiment). Our results show that the visuospatial viewpoint from which the virtual body is seen during FBIs modulates the subjective 1PP and that such viewpoint manipulations contribute to spatial aspects of BSC. We compare the present data with recent data revealing vestibular contributions to the subjective 1PP and discuss the multisensory nature of BSC and the subjective 1PP.