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Publications in Frontiers in Psychology by NOMIS researchers

NOMIS Researcher(s)

December 4, 2020

The perception of being located within one’s body (i.e., bodily self-location) is an essential feature of everyday self-experience. However, by manipulating exteroceptive input, healthy participants can easily be induced to perceive themselves as being spatially dislocated from their physical bodies. It has previously been suggested that interoception, i.e., the processing of inner physiological signals, contributes to the stability of body representations; however, this relationship has not previously been tested for different dimensions of interoception and bodily self-location. In the present study, using an advanced automatized setup, we systematically manipulated participants’ perspective of their own body (first- vs third-person perspective) as well as the synchrony of visuotactile stimulation (synchronous vs asynchronous). The malleability of bodily self-location was assessed using a questionnaire targeting in-body and out-of-body experiences. Participants also performed a heartbeat discrimination task to assess their interoceptive accuracy (behavioral performance), interoceptive sensibility (confidence in their interoceptive abilities), and interoceptive awareness (meta-cognitive representation of interoceptive signals). Bodily self-location was significantly influenced by perspective, with third-person perspective being associated with stronger out-of-body experiences compared to first-person perspective. Furthermore, there was a significant perspective × stimulation interaction, with subsequent analyses showing that participants reported out-of-body experiences particularly under third-person perspective combined with synchronous visuotactile stimulation. Correlation and regression analyses revealed that meta-cognitive interoceptive awareness was specifically and negatively related to the exteroceptively mediated malleability of body experiences. These results indicate that the perception of the self being located within one’s body relies on the interaction of exteroceptive input and higher-order interoceptive abilities. This has implications for theoretical considerations about the bodily self in health as well as for the understanding of disturbed bodily self-processing in clinical contexts.

Research field(s)
Health Sciences, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, Experimental Psychology