Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 237, Issue 1, pp 81–89 | Cite as

Effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and visuotactile synchrony on the embodiment of an artificial hand

  • Akihiko AsaoEmail author
  • Kenichi Shibuya
  • Kazuki Yamada
  • Yuina Kazama
Research Article


The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is an experimental paradigm known to produce a bodily illusion. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) combined with the RHI induces a stronger illusion than the RHI alone. Visuotactile stimulus synchrony is an important aspect of the RHI. However, the effect of TENS and visuotactile stimulus synchrony in TENS combined with the RHI remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of TENS and visuotactile stimulus synchrony on the embodiment of an artificial hand when using TENS combined with the RHI. The participants underwent four experimental conditions in random order: TENS/noTENS × Synchronous/Asynchronous. TENS was set at an intensity such that it generated a feeling of electrical paresthesia in the radial nerve area of the hand but did not cause pain, i.e., 100-Hz pulse frequency, 80-µs pulse duration, and a constant pulse pattern. A visuotactile stimulus, either temporally synchronous or asynchronous, was generated using paintbrush strokes. To evaluate the outcome measures, the participants completed a questionnaire report and proprioceptive drift assessments (motor response and perceptual response). There were significant main effects of TENS and visuotactile synchrony, but no interaction between these factors, on the results of the questionnaire and the perceptual response. In contrast, there was no significant effect on the result of the motor response. These findings indicate that TENS and visuotactile synchrony might affect differently the embodiment of an artificial hand when using TENS combined with the RHI.


Rubber hand illusion Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation Visuotactile synchrony Sense of body ownership Proprioceptive drift 



This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Exploratory Research from Niigata University of Health and Welfare, 2017. The authors would like to thank Editage for editorial assistance with the manuscript.

Author contributions

AA and KS conceived of the study and designed the experimental paradigm. AA, KY, and YK performed the experiment and analyzed the data. AA wrote the manuscript. KS provided feedback and edited the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of RehabilitationNiigata University of Health and WelfareNiigataJapan
  2. 2.Department of Health and Nutrition, Faculty of Health SciencesNiigata University of Health and WelfareNiigataJapan

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