Monday, December 29, 2008

Altering our self-face recognition

In the wake of several recent posts on the rubber hand illusion, which alters our sense of where our hand is in space, I thought this observation by Tsakiris was interesting: multisensory input to our face (Synchronous tactile stimulation while watching another person's face being similarly touched) causes a bias in recognizing our own face. Here is the abstract:
How do I know the person I see in the mirror is really me? Is it because I know the person simply looks like me, or is it because the mirror reflection moves when I move, and I see it being touched when I feel touch myself? Studies of face-recognition suggest that visual recognition of stored visual features inform self-face recognition. In contrast, body-recognition studies conclude that multisensory integration is the main cue to selfhood. The present study investigates for the first time the specific contribution of current multisensory input for self-face recognition. Participants were stroked on their face while they were looking at a morphed face being touched in synchrony or asynchrony. Before and after the visuo-tactile stimulation participants performed a self-recognition task. The results show that multisensory signals have a significant effect on self-face recognition. Synchronous tactile stimulation while watching another person's face being similarly touched produced a bias in recognizing one's own face, in the direction of the other person included in the representation of one's own face. Multisensory integration can update cognitive representations of one's body, such as the sense of ownership. The present study extends this converging evidence by showing that the correlation of synchronous multisensory signals also updates the representation of one's face. The face is a key feature of our identity, but at the same time is a source of rich multisensory experiences used to maintain or update self-representations.

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