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Science. 2007 Aug 24;317(5841):1096-9.

Video ergo sum: manipulating bodily self-consciousness.

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Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Station 15, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Humans normally experience the conscious self as localized within their bodily borders. This spatial unity may break down in certain neurological conditions such as out-of-body experiences, leading to a striking disturbance of bodily self-consciousness. On the basis of these clinical data, we designed an experiment that uses conflicting visual-somatosensory input in virtual reality to disrupt the spatial unity between the self and the body. We found that during multisensory conflict, participants felt as if a virtual body seen in front of them was their own body and mislocalized themselves toward the virtual body, to a position outside their bodily borders. Our results indicate that spatial unity and bodily self-consciousness can be studied experimentally and are based on multisensory and cognitive processing of bodily information.

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