Milliseconds Matter: Temporal Order of Visuo-tactile Stimulation Affects the Ownership of a Virtual Hand

  • Ioannis Dimitrios Zoulias
  • William Seymour Harwin
  • Yoshikatsu Hayashi
  • Slawomir Jaroslaw Nasuto
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9775)


The sense of body ownership, that one’s body belongs to oneself, is a result of the integration of different sensory streams. This sense however is not error-free; in 1998 Botvinick and Cohen [3] showed the rubber hand illusion (RHI), an illusion that made a subject feel a rubber hand as their own. An important factor to induce the illusion is the timing of the applied visual and tactile stimulation to the rubber hand. Temporal delays greater than 500 ms eliminate the illusory ownership. This study investigates previously unexplored small delays between stimulation modalities and their effect for the perception of the RHI. Through a virtual reality setup of the RHI paradigm, it is shown that small delays can significantly alter the strength of the illusion. The order of the sensory modality presented plays a catalytic role to whether or not the inter-modal delay will have an effect on the illusion’s strength.


Virtual hand illusion Multisensory integration Temporal order judgement Virtual reality 



This research was supported by an EPSRC DTG grant.


  1. 1.
    Bekrater-Bodmann, R., Foell, J., Diers, M., Kamping, S., Rance, M., Kirsch, P., Trojan, J., Fuchs, X., Bach, F., Çakmak, H.K., Maaß, H., Flor, H.: The importance of synchrony and temporal order of visual and tactile input for illusory limb ownership experiences: an fMRI study applying virtual reality. PLoS ONE 9(1), e87013 (2014). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Blanke, O.: Multisensory brain mechanisms of bodily self-consciousness. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 13, 556–571 (2012). Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Botvinick, M., Cohen, J.: Rubber hands ‘feel’ touch that eyes see. Nature 391(6669), 756 (1998). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Di Luca, M., Machulla, T.K., Ernst, M.O.: Recalibration of multisensory simultaneity: cross-modal transfer coincides with a change in perceptual latency. J. Vis. 9(12), 7.1–7.16 (2009)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ehrsson, H.H., Holmes, N.P., Passingham, R.E.: Touching a rubber hand: feeling of body ownership is associated with activity in multisensory brain areas. J. Neurosci. Official J. Soc. Neurosci. 25(45), 10564–10573 (2005). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ehrsson, H.: The concept of body ownership and its relation to multisensory integration. In: Calvert, G.A., Spence, C., Stein, B.E. (eds.) The New Handbook of Multisensory Processes, Chap. 43, pp. 775–792. MIT Press, Cambridge (2012).
  7. 7.
    Fink, M., Ulbrich, P., Churan, J., Wittmann, M.: Stimulus-dependent processing of temporal order. Behav. Processes 71(2–3), 344–352 (2006). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    González-Franco, M., Peck, T.C., Rodríguez-Fornells, A., Slater, M.: A threat to a virtual hand elicits motor cortex activation. Exp. Brain Res. 232(3), 875–887 (2014)., CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kanabus, M., Szelag, E., Rojek, E., Poppel, E.: Temporal order judgement for auditory and visual stimuli. Acta Neurobiol. Exp. (Wars) 62(4), 263–270 (2002)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Keetels, M., Vroomen, J.: Temporal recalibration to tactile visual asynchronous stimuli. Neurosci. Lett. 430(2), 130–134 (2008). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Keetels, M., Vroomen, J.: Perception of synchrony between the senses. In: Murray, M., Wallace, M.T. (eds.) The Neural Bases of Multisensory Processes, Chap. 9. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis (2012).
  12. 12.
    Levitin, D.J., MacLean, K., Mathews, M., Chu, L., Jensen, E.: The perception of cross-modal simultaneity. Int. J. Comput. Anticipatory Syst. 517, 6–9 (2000)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Morgan, M., Hole, G., Glennerster, A.: Biases and sensitivities in geometrical illusions. Vision. Res. 30(11), 1793–1810 (1990). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Rohde, M., Di Luca, M., Ernst, M.O.: The rubber hand illusion: feeling of ownership and proprioceptive drift do not go hand in hand. PLoS ONE 6(6), e21659 (2011). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Romo, R., De Lafuente, V.: Conversion of sensory signals into perceptual decisions. Prog. Neurobiol. 103, 41–75 (2013). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Shimada, S., Fukuda, K., Hiraki, K.: Rubber hand illusion under delayed visual feedback. PLoS ONE 4(7), e6185 (2009). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Shimada, S., Hiraki, K., Oda, I.: The parietal role in the sense of self-ownership with temporal discrepancy between visual and proprioceptive feedbacks. NeuroImage 24(4), 1225–1232 (2005). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Slater, M., Perez-Marcos, D., Ehrsson, H.H., Sanchez-Vives, M.V.: Towards a digital body: the virtual arm illusion. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 2, 6 (2008). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Slater, M., Perez-Marcos, D., Ehrsson, H.H., Sanchez-Vives, M.V.: Inducing illusory ownership of a virtual body. Front. Neurosci. 3(2), 214–220 (2009). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Tsakiris, M., Haggard, P.: The rubber hand illusion revisited: visuotactile integration and self-attribution. J. Exp. Psychol. Hum. Percept. Perform. 31(1), 80–91 (2005). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    de Vignemont, F.: Embodiment, ownership and disownership. Conscious. Cogn. 20(1), 82–93 (2011). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Vroomen, J., Keetels, M., de Gelder, B., Bertelson, P.: Recalibration of temporal order perception by exposure to audio-visual asynchrony. Cogn. Brain Res. 22(1), 32–35 (2004). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Zoulias, I.D., Hayashi, Y., Harwin, W.S., Nasuto, S.J.: Visual Stimulation by the Oculus Rift \({\textregistered }\) HMD to detect stronger motion imagery ERD. In: 7th International IEEE/EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering, Montpellier (2015).

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ioannis Dimitrios Zoulias
    • 1
  • William Seymour Harwin
    • 1
  • Yoshikatsu Hayashi
    • 1
  • Slawomir Jaroslaw Nasuto
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Systems EngineeringUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

Personalised recommendations