Body ownership promotes visual awareness

Elife. 2017 Aug 17:6:e26022. doi: 10.7554/eLife.26022.


The sense of ownership of one's body is important for survival, e.g., in defending the body against a threat. However, in addition to affecting behavior, it also affects perception of the world. In the case of visuospatial perception, it has been shown that the sense of ownership causes external space to be perceptually scaled according to the size of the body. Here, we investigated the effect of ownership on another fundamental aspect of visual perception: visual awareness. In two binocular rivalry experiments, we manipulated the sense of ownership of a stranger's hand through visuotactile stimulation while that hand was one of the rival stimuli. The results show that ownership, but not mere visuotactile stimulation, increases the dominance of the hand percept. This effect is due to a combination of longer perceptual dominance durations and shorter suppression durations. Together, these results suggest that the sense of body ownership promotes visual awareness.

Keywords: binocular rivalry; body ownership; body representation; human; multi-sensory integration; neuroscience; rubber hand illusion; visual awareness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Body Image*
  • Female
  • Hand
  • Human Body
  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Illusions / psychology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Ownership
  • Touch / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submitthe work for publication