When we look at our body parts, we are immediately aware that they belong to us and we rarely doubt about the integrity, continuity, and sense of ownership of our body. Despite this certainty, immersive virtual reality (IVR) may lead to a strong feeling of embodiment over an artificial body part seen from a first-person perspective (1PP). Although such feeling of ownership (FO) has been described in different situations, it is not yet understood how this phenomenon is generated at neural level. To track the real-time brain dynamics associated with FO, we delivered transcranial magnetic stimuli over the hand region in the primary motor cortex (M1) and simultaneously recorded electroencephalography (EEG) in 19 healthy volunteers (11 male/8 female) watching IVR renderings of anatomically plausible (full-limb) versus implausible (hand disconnected from the forearm) virtual limbs. Our data show that embodying a virtual hand is temporally associated with a rapid drop of cortical activity of the onlookers' hand region in the M1 contralateral to the observed hand. Spatiotemporal analysis shows that embodying the avatar's hand is also associated with fast changes of activity within an interconnected fronto-parietal circuit ipsilateral to the brain stimulation. Specifically, an immediate reduction of connectivity with the premotor area is paralleled by an enhancement in the connectivity with the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) which is related to the strength of ownership illusion ratings and thus likely reflects conscious feelings of embodiment. Our results suggest that changes of bodily representations are underpinned by a dynamic cross talk within a highly-plastic, fronto-parietal network.

Feeling of ownership over an embodied avatar's hand brings about fast changes of fronto-parietal cortical dynamics

Giacomo Koch
Ultimo
2022

Abstract

When we look at our body parts, we are immediately aware that they belong to us and we rarely doubt about the integrity, continuity, and sense of ownership of our body. Despite this certainty, immersive virtual reality (IVR) may lead to a strong feeling of embodiment over an artificial body part seen from a first-person perspective (1PP). Although such feeling of ownership (FO) has been described in different situations, it is not yet understood how this phenomenon is generated at neural level. To track the real-time brain dynamics associated with FO, we delivered transcranial magnetic stimuli over the hand region in the primary motor cortex (M1) and simultaneously recorded electroencephalography (EEG) in 19 healthy volunteers (11 male/8 female) watching IVR renderings of anatomically plausible (full-limb) versus implausible (hand disconnected from the forearm) virtual limbs. Our data show that embodying a virtual hand is temporally associated with a rapid drop of cortical activity of the onlookers' hand region in the M1 contralateral to the observed hand. Spatiotemporal analysis shows that embodying the avatar's hand is also associated with fast changes of activity within an interconnected fronto-parietal circuit ipsilateral to the brain stimulation. Specifically, an immediate reduction of connectivity with the premotor area is paralleled by an enhancement in the connectivity with the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) which is related to the strength of ownership illusion ratings and thus likely reflects conscious feelings of embodiment. Our results suggest that changes of bodily representations are underpinned by a dynamic cross talk within a highly-plastic, fronto-parietal network.
2022
Paolo Casula, Elias; Tieri, Gaetano; Rocchi, Lorenzo; Pezzetta, Rachele; Maiella, Michele; Francesco Pavone, Enea; Maria Aglioti, Salvatore; Koch, Giacomo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2505180
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