Rubber Hands Feel The Touch Of Light

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Psychological Science


Two experiments involving a total of 220 subjects are reported. The experiments document that “stroking” a false hand with the bright beam of light from a laser pointer can produce tactile and thermal sensations when the hand can be seen as one's own. Overall, 66% of subjects reported somatic sensations from the light. Felt hand location was recalibrated toward the location of the false hand for those subjects who felt the light. Moreover, the proprioceptive recalibration from the laser experience was comparable to that produced by actual coordinated brushing of the false hand and of the unseen real hand after 2 min of stimulation. The illusion may be experienced on one's real hand as well. The results are discussed in terms of multisensory integration.