Shared neurocognitive mechanisms of attenuating self-touch and illusory self-touch

Maria Pyasik, Adriana Salatino, Dalila Burin, Anna Berti, Raffaella Ricci, Lorenzo Pia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the fact that any successful achievement of willed actions necessarily entails the sense of body ownership (the feeling of owning the moving body parts), it is still unclear how this happens. To address this issue at both behavioral and neural levels, we capitalized on sensory attenuation (SA) phenomenon (a self-generated stimulus is perceived as less intense than an identical externally generated stimulus). We compared the intensity of somatosensory stimuli produced by one’s own intended movements and by movements of an embodied fake hand. Then, we investigated if in these two conditions SA was equally affected by interfering with the activity of the supplementary motor area (SMA; known to be related to motor intention and SA) using single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation. We showed that ownership of the fake hand triggered attenuation of somatosensory stimuli generated by its movements that were comparable to the attenuation of self-generated stimuli. Furthermore, disrupting the SMA eliminated the SA effect regardless of whether it was triggered by actual participant’s movements or by illusory ownership. Our findings suggest that SA triggered by body ownership relies, at least in part, on the activation of the same brain structures as SA triggered by motor-related signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 1


  • Body ownership
  • Sense of agency
  • Sensory attenuation
  • Supplementary motor area
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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