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Disrupting Vestibular Activity Disrupts Body Ownership

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Chapter Summary

People are more sensitive at detecting asynchrony between a self-generated movement and visual feedback concerning that movement when the movement is viewed from a first-person perspective. We call this the ‘self-advantage’ and interpret it as an objective measure of self. Here we ask if disruption of the vestibular system in healthy individuals affects the self-advantage. Participants performed finger movements while viewing their hand in a first-person (‘self’) or third-person (‘other’) perspective and indicated which of two periods (one with minimum delay and the other with an added delay of 33–264 ms) was delayed. Their sensitivity to the delay was calculated from the psychometric functions obtained. During the testing, disruptive galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) was applied in five-minute blocks interleaved with five minutes of no stimulation for a total of 40 min. We confirmed the self-advantage under no stimulation (31 ms). In the presence of disruptive GVS this advantage disappeared and there was no longer a difference in performance between perspectives. The threshold delay for the ‘other’ perspective was not affected by the GVS. These results suggest that an intact vestibular signal is required to distinguish ‘self’ from ‘other’ and to maintain a sense of body ownership.



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