Multisensory mechanisms of body self-perception
Our core line of research is centered on the question of how we come to perceive ownership over our bodies. This question can be framed in terms of a multisensory binding problem: how is visual, tactile and proprioceptive information combined to obtain a single coherent object that is one's own body? Our results suggest that that the underlying mechanism is the integration of multisensory signals by populations of neurons in the premotor cortex and the posterior parietal cortex.
We also want to understand how we perceive ownership over an entire body as opposed to fragmented parts, and how we come to experience that our physical self is located at a particular place in the word. Another line of questioning addresses how the central own-body representation influences other cognitive functions, such as visuospatial perception of environmental objects and the recollection of personal memories.
Novel behavior paradigms based on perceptual illusion are used in combination with state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques to address these questions in humans. These illusions allow the controlled manipulation of specific aspects of body representation in healthy individuals. Neuroimaging and focal neurodisruption methods allow us to test hypotheses regarding underlying brain mechanisms.
The multisensory model of body ownership that continues to be developed in our laboratory is already being used in the field of neuro-prosthetics and by the virtual reality research community, thereby establishing opportunities for important clinical and industrial applications.
Brain regions in which the scientists could successfully decode the participants’ perceived self-location from patterns of neural activity. Illustration: Malin Björnsdotter & Arvid Guterstam, from Guterstam, Björnsdotter, Gentile and Ehrsson (2015).
Body ownership promotes visual awareness.
van der Hoort B, Reingardt M, Ehrsson H
Elife 2017 Aug;(6):pii: e26022
Body ownership determines the attenuation of self-generated tactile sensations.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2017 Aug;114(31):8426-8431
Ownership of an artificial limb induced by electrical brain stimulation.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2017 Jan;114(1):166-171
Posterior cingulate cortex integrates the senses of self-location and body ownership.
Curr. Biol. 2015 Jun;25(11):1416-25
Out-of-body-induced hippocampal amnesia.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2014 Mar;111(12):4421-6
Zakaryah Abdulkarim - PhD student
Henrik Ehrsson - Professor
Arvid Guterstam - Postdoc
Konstantina Kilteni - Postdoc
Martti Mercurio - Research engineer
Nora Preuss - Postdoc
Pawel Tacikowski - Postdoc
Björn Van Der Hoort - Postdoc
Marie Chancel - Postdoc
Chenggui Fan - Research Assistant
Sophie O'Kane - PhD student