Both developmental and adult vision shape body representations

Elena Nava, Tineke Steiger, Brigitte Röder


Sense of body ownership and body representation are fundamental parts of human consciousness, but the contribution of the visual modality to their development remains unclear. We tested congenitally and late blind adults on a somatosensory version of the rubber hand illusion, and on the Aristotle illusion, in which sighted controls touching a single sphere with crossed fingers commonly report perceiving two. We found that congenitally and late blind individuals did not report subjectively experiencing the rubber hand illusion. However, in an objective measure, the congenitally blind did not show a recalibration of the position of their hand towards the rubber hand while late blind and sighted individuals did. By contrast, all groups experienced the Aristotle illusion. This pattern of results provides evidence for a dissociation of the concepts of body ownership and spatial recalibration and, furthermore, suggests different reference frames for hands (external space) and fingers (anatomical space).

Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Pages (from-to)6622
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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