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Awareness of body and limb location typically comes from neural pathways within the skin, muscles, and joints as well as visual information from peripheral vision. This study employs a virtual version of the mirror illusion to examine the importance of visual and body-based information in spatial body awareness. In the mirror illusion, the seen location of the hand differs from the felt location of the hand. With this conflicting information, the perceived location of the hand is biased toward the visually-specified limb information. The current study extends this phenomenon into virtual reality to determine whether visual information in a virtual environment influences perceived body part location. Each participant is seated at a table, outfitted with a virtual reality (VR) helmet in which they view a virtual tabletop and a virtual depiction of their right hand. The participant’s actual right hand is positioned at a location that is either aligned or misaligned with the virtual right hand. After repeatedly flexing their right index finger while viewing a corresponding movement in VR, participants are asked to point with the left hand to the perceived location of their actual right hand. Errors in pointing to the hand location are compared in instances in which the virtual hand is aligned versus misaligned with the real hand. It is predicted that when the real and virtual hands are misaligned, participants will point closer to the seen virtual hand location than to the actual hand location. This suggests that body part awareness is dominated by visual information and suggests a sense of ownership of the virtual limb.
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences
Institutional Learning Goals
"Virtual Mirror Illusion" (2023). Stander Symposium Projects. 2944.