Which hand is mine? Discriminating body ownership perception in a two-alternative forced-choice task

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2020 Nov;82(8):4058-4083. doi: 10.3758/s13414-020-02107-x.


The experience of one's body as one's own is referred to as the sense of body ownership. This central part of human conscious experience determines the boundary between the self and the external environment, a crucial distinction in perception, action, and cognition. Although body ownership is known to involve the integration of signals from multiple sensory modalities, including vision, touch, and proprioception, little is known about the principles that determine this integration process, and the relationship between body ownership and perception is unclear. These uncertainties stem from the lack of a sensitive and rigorous method to quantify body ownership. Here, we describe a two-alternative forced-choice discrimination task that allows precise and direct measurement of body ownership as participants decide which of two rubber hands feels more like their own in a version of the rubber hand illusion. In two experiments, we show that the temporal and spatial congruence principles of multisensory stimulation, which determine ownership discrimination, impose tighter constraints than previously thought and that texture congruence constitutes an additional principle; these findings are compatible with theoretical models of multisensory integration. Taken together, our results suggest that body ownership constitutes a genuine perceptual multisensory phenomenon that can be quantified with psychophysics in discrimination experiments.

Keywords: Body ownership; Body perception; Multisensory integration; Psychophysics; Rubber hand illusion; Self-attribution.

MeSH terms

  • Body Image
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Illusions*
  • Ownership
  • Proprioception
  • Touch Perception*
  • Visual Perception