Electrically-evoked Referred Sensations Induce Embodiment of Rubber Limb

Abstract

Introduction: Electrical stimulation is increasingly relevant in a variety of medical treatments. In this study, the quality of referred sensations evoked using surface electrical stimulation was evaluated using the rubber hand and foot illusions. Methods: The rubber hand and foot illusions were attempted under 4 conditions: (1) multi-location tapping; (2) one-location tapping; (3) electrical stimulation of sensation referred to the hand or foot; (4) asynchronous control. The strength of each illusion was quantified using a questionnaire and proprioceptive drift, where a stronger response suggested embodiment of the rubber limb. Results: 45 able-bodied individuals and two individuals with amputations participated in this study. Overall, the illusion evoked by nerve stimulation was not as strong as illusions evoked by physically tapping but stronger than the control illusion. Conclusion: This study has found that the rubber hand and foot illusion can be performed without touching the distal limb of the participant. Electrical stimulation that produced referred sensation in the distal extremity was realistic enough to partially incorporate the rubber limb into a person’s body image

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This paper was published in Digital Commons@Hope College.

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