Seeing and identifying with a virtual body decreases pain perception
ABSTRACT Pain and the conscious mind (or the self) are experienced in our body. Both are intimately linked to the subjective quality of conscious experience. Here, we used virtual reality technology and visuo-tactile conflicts in healthy subjects to test whether experimentally induced changes of bodily self-consciousness (self-location; self-identification) lead to changes in pain perception. We found that visuo-tactile stroking of a virtual body but not of a control object led to increased pressure pain thresholds and self-location. This increase was not modulated by the synchrony of stroking as predicted based on earlier work. This differed for self-identification where we found as predicted that synchrony of stroking increased self-identification with the virtual body (but not a control object), and positively correlated with an increase in pain thresholds. We discuss the functional mechanisms of self-identification, self-location, and the visual perception of human bodies with respect to pain perception.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Roland Von Känel, Jan 17, 2015
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ABSTRACT: We review recent research about human subjectivity and self-consciousness that has focused on cognitive psychology and neuroimaging of bodily self-conscious-ness. Multidisciplinary research on the fields of neurology, cognitive neuroscience and virtual reality opens new avenues to investigate brain mechanisms under-lying a fundamental sense of the bodily self. Clinical evidence for the implication of right temporo-parietal junction for bodily self-consciousness has received support by studies in which virtual-reality based own body illusions are evoked in healthy participants to study the underlying processes. A series of experiments will be reviewed in which it was shown that the experiences of self-location, self-identification and the first-person perspective can be manipulated experimentally and rely on the integration of multisensory stimuli (touch, vision, proprioception, vestibular information). Specific protocols are available to predictably influence the di aspects of bodily self conscious-ness. We predict that the understanding of fundamental brain mechanisms of bodily self-consciousness will lead to unprecedented empirical insights that are of broad relevance for science, virtual reality, engineer-ing, the humanities, as well as medicine and psychotherapy.
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ABSTRACT: Under normal circumstances, different inner- and outer-body sources are integrated to form coherent and accurate mental experiences of the state of the body, leading to the phenomenon of corporeal awareness. How these processes are affected by changes in inner and outer inputs to the body remains unclear. Here, we aim to present empirical evidence in which people with a massive sensory and motor disconnection may continue to experience feelings of general body state awareness without complete control of their inner and outer states. In these clinical populations, the activity of the neural structures subserving inner and outer body processing can be manipulated and tuned by means of body illusions that are usually based on multisensory stimulation. We suggest that a multisensory therapeutic approach could be adopted in the context of therapies for patients suffering from deafferentation and deefferentation. In this way, these individuals could regain a more complete feeling and control of the sensations they experience, which vary widely depending on their neurological condition.Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 01/2015; 9:163. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00163 · 2.90 Impact Factor
Article: The future of online therapy[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: In this paper we suggest a model for comprehensive therapy online with a therapist at its center.•We examine the principal criticisms leveled against online therapy and discuss how it can be responded to effectively.•We suggest that in addition to one on one interactions, such therapy should exploit other resources available online.•The paper goes on to examine ways in which the patient can increase his or her emotional abilities.•The paper demonstrates how sophisticated applications may be used to give real time feedback to the patient.Computers in Human Behavior 12/2014; 41. DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2014.09.016 · 2.27 Impact Factor