Fake hands in action: embodiment and control of supernumerary limbs

Roger Newport, Rachel Pearce, Catherine Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Demonstrations that the brain can incorporate a fake limb into our bodily representations when stroked in synchrony with our unseen real hand [(the rubber hand illusion (RHI)] are now commonplace. Such demonstrations highlight the dynamic flexibility of the perceptual body image, but evidence for comparable RHI-sensitive changes in the body schema used for action is less common. Recent evidence from the RHI supports a distinction between bodily representations for perception (body image) and for action (body schema) (Kammers et al. in Neuropsychologia 44:2430-2436, 2006). The current study challenges and extends these findings by demonstrating that active synchronous stroking of a brush not only elicits perceptual embodiment of a fake limb (body image) but also affects subsequent reaching error (body schema). Participants were presented with two moving fake left hands. When only one was synchronous during active touch, ownership was claimed for the synchronous hand only and the accuracy of reaching was consistent with control of the synchronous hand. When both fake hands were synchronous, ownership was claimed over both, but only one was controlled. Thus, it would appear that fake limbs can be incorporated into the body schema as well as the body image, but while multiple limbs can be incorporated into the body image, the body schema can accommodate only one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-95
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation cérébrale
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Image
  • Computers
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Female
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Illusions
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Psychophysics
  • Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Touch Perception
  • Video Recording
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult

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