Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 232, Issue 12, pp 4021–4033 | Cite as

Visuospatial viewpoint manipulation during full-body illusion modulates subjective first-person perspective

  • Christian Pfeiffer
  • Valentin Schmutz
  • Olaf Blanke
Research Article


Self-consciousness is based on multisensory signals from the body. In full-body illusion (FBI) experiments, multisensory conflict was used to induce changes in three key aspects of bodily self-consciousness (BSC): self-identification (which body ‘I’ identify with), self-location (where ‘I’ am located), and first-person perspective (from where ‘I’ experience the world; 1PP). Here, we adapted a previous FBI protocol in which visuotactile stroking was administered by a robotic device (tactile stroking) and simultaneously rendered on the back of a virtual body (visual stroking) that participants viewed on a head-mounted display as if filmed from a posterior viewpoint of a camera. We compared the effects of two different visuospatial viewpoints on the FBI and thereby on these key aspects of BSC. During control manipulations, participants saw a no-body object instead of a virtual body (first experiment) or received asynchronous versus synchronous visuotactile stroking (second experiment). Results showed that within-subjects visuospatial viewpoint manipulations affected the subjective 1PP ratings if a virtual body was seen but had no effect for viewing a non-body object. However, visuospatial viewpoint had no effect on self-identification, but depended on the viewed object and visuotactile synchrony. Self-location depended on visuospatial viewpoint (first experiment) and visuotactile synchrony (second experiment). Our results show that the visuospatial viewpoint from which the virtual body is seen during FBIs modulates the subjective 1PP and that such viewpoint manipulations contribute to spatial aspects of BSC. We compare the present data with recent data revealing vestibular contributions to the subjective 1PP and discuss the multisensory nature of BSC and the subjective 1PP.


Bodily self-consciousness Multisensory integration First-person perspective Full-body illusion Visuospatial viewpoint 



The authors would like to thank Andrea Serino for insightful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This work was supported by Grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SINERGIA CRSII1-125135), the European Science Foundation (FP7 project VERE) and the Bertarelli Foundation. The funders had no role in the study preparation, execution, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Pfeiffer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Valentin Schmutz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Olaf Blanke
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Neuroprosthethics, School of Life SciencesEcole Polytechnique FédéraleLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, Brain Mind InstituteEcole Polytechnique FédéraleLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyUniversity HospitalGenevaSwitzerland

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