A novel manipulation method of human body ownership using an fMRI-compatible master-slave system

Masayuki Hara, Roy Salomon, Wietske van der Zwaag, Tobias Kober, Giulio Rognini, Hiroyuki Nabae, Akio Yamamoto, Olaf Blanke, Toshiro Higuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bodily self-consciousness has become an important topic in cognitive neuroscience aiming to understand how the brain creates a unified sensation of the self in a body. Specifically, full body illusion (FBI) in which changes in bodily self-consciousness are experimentally introduced by using visual-tactile stimulation has led to improve understanding of these mechanisms. This paper introduces a novel approach to the classic FBI paradigm using a robotic master-slave system which allows us to examine interactions between action and the sense of body ownership in behavioral and MRI experiments. In the proposed approach, the use of the robotic master-slave system enables unique stimulation in which experimental participants can administer tactile cues on their own back using active self-touch. This active self-touch has never been employed in FBI experiments and it allows to test the role of sensorimotor integration and agency (the feeling of control over our actions) in FBI paradigms. The objective of this study is to propose a robotic-haptic platform allowing a new FBI paradigm including the active self-touch in MRI environments. This paper, first, describes the design concept and the performance of the prototype device in the fMRI environment (for 3. T and 7. T MRI scanners). In addition, the prototype device is applied to a classic FBI experiment, and we verify that the use of the prototype device succeeded in inducing the FBI. These results indicate that the proposed approach has a potential to drive advances in our understanding of human body ownership and agency by allowing novel manipulation and paradigms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - 30 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bodily self-consciousness
  • Body ownership
  • FMRI
  • Full body illusion
  • Robotics and haptic technology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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