How could you confuse a rubber hand for your own hand?

By: Julia Layton

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Author's Note: How could you confuse a rubber hand for your own hand?

The brain and its integration of sensory stimuli is an enormous topic, and I tried to limit this article's scope to the specifics of the rubber-hand illusion in the hopes of making it manageable for readers of all backgrounds (and avoid producing a tome). Note, however, that while the premotor cortex is at the center of the rubber hand illusion, as it appears to be in control of body ownership, the parietal cortex is also involved in sensory interpretation, and it appears to control body image (shape and size). In my brief mention of disease processes that may be elucidated by findings in studies like the rubber hand illusion, the parietal lobe plays a central role in at least two: anorexia and body dysmorphic disorder. There is a very cool illusion that sheds light on body-image disruptions, which you can read about here in PLOS Biology.

Related Articles

  • "Body illusions: Rubber hand illusion." New Scientist. March 18, 2009. (Oct. 8, 2012)
  • Dijkerman, HC. "It's personal! Visuotactile predictive mechanisms of peripersonal space." Abstract. Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. June 2011. (Oct. 8, 2012)
  • Keim, Brandon. "Rubber Hand Trick Reveals Brain-Body Link." Wired. Aug. 25, 2008. (Oct. 8, 2012)
  • Kruglinski, Susan. "The Man Who Mistook a Rubber Hand for His Own." Discovery Magazine. Jan. 2, 2005. (Oct. 8, 2012)
  • Longo, Matthew, et al. "Linking Pain and the Body: Neural Correlates of Visually Induced Analgesia." The Journal of Neuroscience, February 22, 2012 • 32(8):2601 Internet: (Oct. 10, 2012)
  • Ravilious, Kate. "How the Brain Builds Its Image of the Body." The Guardian. Nov. 28, 2005. (Oct. 9, 2012)
  • Salisbury, David. "Putting the mind back into the body of schizophrenia." Vanderbilt University News. Oct. 31, 2011. (Oct. 12, 2012)
  • "Scientists Produce Illusion of Body Swapping." Science Daily. Dec. 2, 2008. (Oct. 8, 2012)
  • "Tactile illusions: Seven ways to fool your sense of touch." New Scientist. (Oct. 8, 2012)
  • Thakkar, Katharine N, et al. (2011) "Disturbances in Body Ownership in Schizophrenia: Evidence from the Rubber Hand Illusion and Case Study of a Spontaneous Out-of-Body Experience." PLoS ONE 6(10):
  • "That's Not My Hand! How The Brain Can Be Fooled Into Feeling A Fake Limb." Science Daily. July 5, 2004. (Oct. 8, 2012)