Image_1_The rubber hand illusion evaluated using different stimulation modalities.JPEG (273.97 kB)

Image_1_The rubber hand illusion evaluated using different stimulation modalities.JPEG

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posted on 2023-09-14, 04:02 authored by Pamela Svensson, Nebojša Malešević, Ulrika Wijk, Anders Björkman, Christian Antfolk

Tactile feedback plays a vital role in inducing ownership and improving motor control of prosthetic hands. However, commercially available prosthetic hands typically do not provide tactile feedback and because of that the prosthetic user must rely on visual input to adjust the grip. The classical rubber hand illusion (RHI) where a brush is stroking the rubber hand, and the user’s hidden hand synchronously can induce ownership of a rubber hand. In the classic RHI the stimulation is modality-matched, meaning that the stimulus on the real hand matches the stimulus on the rubber hand. The RHI has also been used in previous studies with a prosthetic hand as the “rubber hand,” suggesting that a hand prosthesis can be incorporated within the amputee’s body scheme. Interestingly, previous studies have shown that stimulation with a mismatched modality, where the rubber hand was brushed, and vibrations were felt on the hidden hand also induced the RHI. The aim of this study was to compare how well mechanotactile, vibrotactile, and electrotactile feedback induced the RHI in able-bodied participants and forearm amputees. 27 participants with intact hands and three transradial amputees took part in a modified RHI experiment. The rubber hand was stroked with a brush, and the participant’s hidden hand/residual limb received stimulation with either brush stroking, electricity, pressure, or vibration. The three latter stimulations were modality mismatched with regard to the brushstroke. Participants were tested for ten different combinations (stimulation blocks) where the stimulations were applied on the volar (glabrous skin), and dorsal (hairy skin) sides of the hand. Outcome was assessed using two standard tests (questionnaire and proprioceptive drift). All types of stimulation induced RHI but electrical and vibration stimulation induced a stronger RHI than pressure. After completing more stimulation blocks, the proprioceptive drift test showed that the difference between pre- and post-test was reduced. This indicates that the illusion was drifting toward the rubber hand further into the session.