My Hand Is Not My Own! Experimental Elicitation of Body Disownership

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Abstract

We conducted an experiment in which visual discontinuity between one’s own body parts disturbs the unity of the body and elicits subjective and conscious disownership. Previous studies have demonstrated a decrease in feelings of ownership over an external object from a first-person viewpoint. In contrast, the present study suggests that people can feel explicit disownership of their own body from a third-person viewpoint. The current experiment presented participants with live, lateral images of their own body. During the trial, they moved and observed their arms within the following restrictions: In the “hide” condition, an elbow was hidden behind the upper body, obscuring the smooth connection between the arm and upper body. In the “display” condition, the elbow was displayed in front of the upper body to better display the smooth connection. Questionnaire results demonstrated that the participants felt disownership of their arms while retaining agency. Therefore, this experiment sheds new light on bodily awareness.

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