Current neuroscientific models of bodily self-consciousness (BSC) argue that inaccurate integration of sensory signals leads to altered states of BSC. Indeed, using virtual reality technology, observers viewing a fake or virtual body while being exposed to tactile stimulation of the real body, can experience illusory ownership over–and mislocalization towards—the virtual body (Full-Body Illusion, FBI). Among the sensory inputs contributing to BSC, the vestibular system is believed to play a central role due to its importance in estimating self-motion and orientation. This theory is supported by clinical evidence that vestibular loss patients are more prone to altered BSC states, and by recent experimental evidence that visuo-vestibular conflicts can disrupt BSC in healthy individuals. Nevertheless, the contribution of vestibular information and self-motion perception to BSC remains largely unexplored. Here, we investigate the relationship between alterations of BSC and self-motion sensitivity in healthy individuals. Fifteen participants were exposed to visuo-vibrotactile conflicts designed to induce an FBI, and subsequently to visual rotations that evoked illusory self-motion (vection). We found that synchronous visuo-vibrotactile stimulation successfully induced the FBI, and further observed a relationship between the strength of the FBI and the time necessary for complete vection to arise. Specifically, higher self-reported FBI scores across synchronous and asynchronous conditions were associated to shorter vection latencies. Our findings are in agreement with clinical observations that vestibular loss patients have higher FBI susceptibility and lower vection latencies, and argue for increased visual over vestibular dependency during altered states of BSC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas