Touch feel illusion in schizophrenic patients

Biol Psychiatry. 2000 Dec 1;48(11):1105-8. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(00)00947-1.


Background: The rubber hand illusion is a tactile sensation referred to as an alien limb. The illusion has been explained by a spurious reconciliation of visual and tactile inputs reflecting functional connectivity in the brain and was used to explore alterations of functional connectivity in schizophrenia.

Methods: The rubber hand illusion was achieved when two paintbrushes simultaneously stroke the hand of the subject hidden from vision by a screen, as well as an artificial hand placed in view of the subject. The rubber hand illusion was assessed with a questionnaire affirming or denying the occurrence of the illusion.

Results: Schizophrenic subjects felt the illusion stronger and faster then did normal control subjects. Some rubber hand illusion effects correlated with positive symptoms of schizophrenia but not with negative symptoms.

Conclusions: Altered functional integration of environmental inputs could constitute the basis for erroneous interpretations of reality, such as delusions and hallucinations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perceptual Distortion*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Refractory Period, Psychological
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Touch*