Upper limb amputees can be induced to experience a rubber hand as their own

Brain. 2008 Dec;131(Pt 12):3443-52. doi: 10.1093/brain/awn297. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

Abstract

We describe how upper limb amputees can be made to experience a rubber hand as part of their own body. This was accomplished by applying synchronous touches to the stump, which was out of view, and to the index finger of a rubber hand, placed in full view (26 cm medial to the stump). This elicited an illusion of sensing touch on the artificial hand, rather than on the stump and a feeling of ownership of the rubber hand developed. This effect was supported by quantitative subjective reports in the form of questionnaires, behavioural data in the form of misreaching in a pointing task when asked to localize the position of the touch, and physiological evidence obtained by skin conductance responses when threatening the hand prosthesis. Our findings outline a simple method for transferring tactile sensations from the stump to a prosthetic limb by tricking the brain, thereby making an important contribution to the field of neuroprosthetics where a major goal is to develop artificial limbs that feel like a real parts of the body.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amputation / rehabilitation
  • Amputation Stumps / physiopathology
  • Amputation, Traumatic / rehabilitation
  • Amputees / psychology*
  • Amputees / rehabilitation*
  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Hand*
  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Illusions / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Phantom Limb
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Rubber
  • Touch*
  • Upper Extremity / surgery

Substances

  • Rubber