Anatomically plausible illusory posture affects mental rotation of body parts

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2013 Mar;13(1):197-209. doi: 10.3758/s13415-012-0120-z.


During mental rotation (MR) of body parts, people internally simulate the movement of their corresponding body segments. These sensory-motor mechanisms render MR sensitive to proprioceptive information (e.g., posture). Similar mechanisms can alter illusory hand ownership following synchronous visuotactile stimulation (e.g., the rubber hand illusion [RHI]). In the present study, we first showed that illusory ownership for a fake hand can also be induced when the posture of the fake hand (palm-up) does not correspond with the subject's physical hand posture (palm-down). Then we tested whether illusory ownership for a fake hand in such a posture impacts the MR of hands carried out immediately and repeatedly after the RHI. The results showed that MR was altered for the view corresponding to the fake hand's posture, but not for other views. Additionally, these effects depended on illusory ownership, as only synchronous visuotactile stimulation was found to lead to these changes, characterized by a modulation of the rotation-dependent profile of MR response times. These findings show that similar sensory-motor mechanisms are recruited during the MR of hands and illusory hand ownership manipulated through multisensory mismatch, and that bottom-up visuotactile stimulation interferes with high-level imagery processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Male
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Rotation
  • Visual Perception / physiology*