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Multisensory Illusions

We are using the rubber hand illusion (RHI) to study the limits of embodiment. That is, can tools be embodied or incorporated? Do you need to be a skilled tool-user in order to experience embodiment? We also use the size-weight illusion and similar weight-based illusions to examine how top-down expectations about the properties of objects influence how heavy they feel.

In the classic RHI, a rubber hand is stroked at the same time a participant's hidden real hand is stroked. The tactile information from the unseen real hand is integrated with the visual information from the stroking of the rubber hand, and the participant is left feeling as if the rubber hand has replaced her own hand.

Researchers Veronica Weser

Collaborators Gianluca Finotti, Marcello Costantini

Currently our RHI research is focused on the properties of tools that lead to their embodiment. If the participant and the rubber hand both hold chopsticks and only the chopsticks are stimulated, will the RHI succeed? What if the tool is a teacup? What if the hand doesn't look like a human hand at all? Right now we are investigating the existence of a value-weight illusion. Do things you believe are more valuable feel heavier than equally weighted things of less value? Or is it the other way around? It seems to depend on the object!


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