Rubber hand illusion induced by touching the face ipsilaterally to a deprived hand: evidence for plastic ‘somatotopic’ remapping in tetraplegics

25 maggio 2014
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Authors

Michele ScandolaEmmanuele Tidoni, Renato Avesani, Giovanni Brunelli,Salvatore M. Aglioti and Valentina Moro

Abstract

Background: Studies in animals and humans indicate that the interruption of body-brain connections following spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to plastic cerebral reorganization. Objective: To explore whether inducing the Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) via synchronous multisensory visuo-tactile bodily stimulation may reveal any perceptual correlates of plastic remapping in SCI. Methods: In 16 paraplegic, 16 tetraplegic and 16 healthy participants we explored whether RHI may be induced by tactile stimuli involving not only the left hand but also the left hemi-face. Touching the participant’s actual hand or face was either synchronous or asynchronous with tactile stimuli seen on a rubber hand. We assessed two components of the illusion, namely perceived changes in the real hand in space (indexed by proprioceptive drift) and ownership of the rubber hand (indexed by subjective responses to an ad-hoc questionnaire). Results: Proprioceptive drift and ownership were found in the healthy group only in the condition where the left real and fake hand were touched simultaneously. In contrast, no drift was found in the SCI patients who, however, showed ownership after both synchronous and asynchronous hand stroking. Importantly, only tetraplegics showed the effect also after synchronous face stroking. Conclusions: RHI may reveal plastic phenomena in SCI. In hand representation-deprived tetraplegics, stimuli on the face (represented contiguously in the somatic and motor systems), drive the sense of hand ownership. This hand-face remapping phenomenon may be useful for restoring a sense of self in massively deprived individuals.

Front. Hum. Neurosci. 8:404

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We are validating a new pain scale which discriminates among muscolo-skeletal, neuropathic and visceral pain in spinal cord injury patients.

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Books and Monographs

Il test di coordinazione motoria di Charlop-Atwell: la standardizzazione italiana.
Colella R, Quadri G, Boscaini F, Moro V, Albaret JM, 2014

Tornare a scuola dopo una grave cerebrolesione Moro Valentina, Rodolfi Chiara, 2012

La plasticità cerebrale. Alle radici del cambiamento
Moro Valentina, Filippi Barbara, 2010

L'agire educativo nella riabilitazione neuropsicologica
Moro Valentina, 2005

Valentina Moro and Riccardo Sartori are directors for the SEID editor of the series "Strumenti in Psicologia, Educazione e Formazione" [Tools in Psychology, Education and Training].
The purpose of this series is to publish materials and tools for the intervention and evaluation in:

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