The rubber hand illusion in a mirror.

Bertamini, M., Berselli, N., Bode, C., Lawson, R., & Wong, L.

University of Liverpool

In the rubber-hand illusion (RHI) one’s hand is hidden, and a fake hand is visible. We explored the situation in which visual information was available indirectly in a mirror. Unlike most species, humans are capable of mirror self-recognition. In the mirror condition, compared to the standard condition (fake hand visible directly), we found no reduction of the RHI following synchronised stimulation, as measured by crossmanual pointing and a questionnaire. We replicated the finding with a smaller mirror that prevented visibility of the face. The RHI was eliminated when a wooden block replaced the fake hand, or when the hand belonged to another person. We conclude that awareness of the reflection is the critical variable, despite the distant visual localisation of the hand in a mirror and the third-person perspective. Stimuli seen in a mirror activate the same response as stimuli seen in peripersonal space, through knowledge that they are near one's body.

Consciousness and Cognition (2011), 20, 1108-1119.