Those are Your Legs: The Effect of Visuo-Spatial Viewpoint on Visuo-Tactile Integration and Body Ownership
Experiencing a body part as one's own, i.e., body ownership, depends on the integration of multisensory bodily signals (including visual, tactile, and proprioceptive information) with the visual top down signals from peripersonal space. Although it has been shown that the visuo-spatial viewpoint from where the body is seen is an important visual top-down factor for body ownership, different studies have reported diverging results. Furthermore, the role of visuo-spatial viewpoint (sometime also called first person perspective) has only been studied for hands or the whole body, but not for the lower limbs. We thus investigated whether and how leg visuo-tactile integration and leg ownership depended on the visuo-spatial viewpoint from which the legs were seen and the anatomical similarity of the visual leg stimuli. Using a virtual leg illusion, we tested the strength of visuo-tactile integration of leg stimuli using the crossmodal congruency effect (CCE) as well as the subjective sense of leg ownership (assessed by a questionnaire). Fifteen participants viewed virtual legs or non-corporeal control objects, presented either from their habitual first person viewpoint or from a viewpoint that was rotated by 900 (third-person viewpoint), while applying visuo-tactile stroking between the participants legs and the virtual legs shown on a head-mounted display. The data show that the firstperson visuo-spatial viewpoint significantly boosts the visuo-tactile integration as well as the sense of leg ownership. Moreover, the viewpoint dependent increment of the visuotactile integration was only found in the conditions when participants viewed the virtual legs (absent for control objects). These results confirm the importance of first person visuo-spatial viewpoint for the integration of visuo-tactile stimuli and extend findings from the upper extremity and the trunk to visuo-tactile integration and ownership for the legs.