Decreased Tactile Sensitivity Induced by Disownership: An Observational Study Utilizing the Rubber Hand Illusion

Kota Ataka, Tamami Sudo, Ryoji Otaki, Eizaburo Suzuki, Shin Ichi Izumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The sense of body ownership, the feeling that one’s own body belongs to oneself, is generated from the integration of visual, tactile, and proprioceptive information. However, long-term non-use of parts of the body due to physical dysfunction caused by trauma or illness may disturb multisensory integration, resulting in a decreased sense of body ownership. The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is an experimental method of manipulating the sense of ownership (SoO). In this illusion, subjects feel as if the rubber hand in front of them were their own hand. The RHI elicits the disownership phenomenon; not only does the rubber hand feels like one’s own hand, but one’s own hand does not feel like one’s own hand. The decrease of ownership of one’s own body induced by the bodily illusion is accompanied by neurophysiological changes, such as attenuation of somatosensory evoked potential and decreases in skin temperature. If the loss of the SoO is associated with decreased neurophysiological function, the dysfunction of patients complaining of the loss of ownership can be exacerbated; appropriate rehabilitation prescriptions are urgently required. The present study attempted to induce a sense of disownership of subjects’ own hands using the RHI and investigated whether the tactile sensitivity threshold was altered by disownership. Via questionnaire, subjects reported a decrease of ownership after the RHI manipulation; at the same time, tactile sensitivity thresholds were shown to increase in tactile evaluation using the Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments test. The tactile detection rate changes before and after the RHI were negatively correlated with the disownership-score changes. These results show that subjects’ sense of disownership, that their own hands did not belong to them, led to decreases in tactile sensitivity. The study findings also suggest that manipulating of illusory ownership can be a tool for estimating the degree of exacerbation of sensory impairment in patients. Consideration of new interventions that optimize the sense of body ownership may contribute to new rehabilitation strategies for post-stroke sensory impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number802148
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jan 20


  • body ownership
  • disownership
  • multisensory integration
  • rehabilitation
  • rubber hand illusion
  • sensory impairment
  • tactile sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Decreased Tactile Sensitivity Induced by Disownership: An Observational Study Utilizing the Rubber Hand Illusion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this