By Klaudia Grechuta, Jelena Guga, Giovanni Maffei, Belen Ballester Rubio & Paul F. M. J. Verschure. Scientific Reports 7, Article nb: 3333 (2017)
Body ownership is critically dependent on multimodal integration as for instance revealed in the Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) and a number of studies which have addressed the neural correlates of the processes underlying this phenomenon. Both experimental and clinical research have shown that the structures underlying body ownership seem to significantly overlap with those of motor control including the parietal and ventral premotor cortices, Temporal Parietal Junction (TPJ) and the insula. This raises the question of whether this structural overlap between body ownership and motor control structures is of any functional significance. Here, we investigate the specific question of whether experimentally induced ownership over a virtual limb can modulate the performance of that limb in a simple sensorimotor task. Using a Virtual reality (VR) environment we modulate body ownership in three experimental conditions with respect to the (in)congruence of stimulus configurations. Our results show that the degree of ownership directly modulates motor performance. This implies that body ownership is not exclusively a perceptual and/or subjective multimodal state but that it is tightly coupled to systems for decision-making and motor control.
see press release The sense of body ownership influences decision making and motor performance