Dexamphetamine effects on separate constructs in the rubber hand illusion test
Corporeal awareness is an integral component of self-consciousness and is distorted in several neurological and psychiatric disorders. Research regarding the neural underpinnings of corporeal awareness has made much progress recently using the rubber hand illusion (RHI) procedure. However, more studies are needed to investigate the possibility of several dissociable constructs related to the RHI specifically, and corporeal awareness generally.
Considering dopamine’s involvement in many perceptual-motor learning processes, as well as its apparent relationship with disorders such as schizophrenia that are linked to body ownership disturbances, we gave 0.45 mg/kg dexamphetamine (a dopamine transporter reverser) to 20 healthy participants to examine the effects of increased dopamine transmission on the RHI.
The effect of dexamphetamine on separate quantitative constructs underlying RHI were examined including embodiment of rubber hand, loss of ownership of real hand, perception of movement, affect, deafference, and proprioceptive drift. The experiment was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design.
Dexamphetamine increased participants’ ratings of embodiment (particularly “ownership”) of the rubber hand and was associated with the experience of loss of ownership of the person’s real hand. There were significant increases from asynchronous to synchronous stroking for the measures of movement and proprioceptive drift after placebo but not dexamphetamine. There were no changes in the measures of other constructs.
These results show a novel pharmacological manipulation of separate constructs of the RHI. This finding may aid in our understanding of disorders that have overlapping disturbances in both dopamine activity and body representations, particularly schizophrenia.
KeywordsRubber hand illusion Embodiment Dopamine Noradrenaline Amphetamine Corporeal awareness
This research was funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council grant (ID: 254619). Matthew Albrecht is the recipient of a Clinical Neurophysiology supplementary scholarship from the Department of Neurophysiology, North Metropolitan Area Health Service—Mental Health and the School of Medicine and Pharmacology of the University of Western Australia. Flavie Waters is recipient of Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants (ID: 404117; 634328).
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