Distinguished Lecture Series: H. Henrik Ehrsson (Karolinska)
Ask any child if his hands belong to him and the answer will be “Of course!” However, how does the brain actually identify its own body? Henrik Ehrsson will describe how cognitive neuroscientists have recently begun to address this fundamental question. One key idea is that parts of the body are distinguished from the external world by the patterns of the correlated information they produce from different sensory modalities (vision, touch and muscle sense). It is hypothesized that these correlations are detected by neuronal populations in premotor and posterior parietal areas that integrate multisensory information from the space near the body. Dr. Ehrsson and his team have recently used a combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging and human behavioral experiments to present experimental evidence that support these predictions. To change the feeling of body ownership, perceptual illusions were used so that healthy individuals experienced a simulated rubber hand as their own, that a mannequin was their body (“body-swap illusion”), or that they were outside their physical body and looking at it from the perspective of another individual (“out-of-body illusion”). By clarifying how the normal brain produces a sense of ownership of one’s body, we can learn how to project ownership onto artificial bodies and simulated virtual ones, possibly even making two people have the experience of swapping bodies with one another. This could have important applications in the fields of virtual reality and neuroprosthetics.
H. Henrik Ehrsson
Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, http://www.ehrssonlab.se/henrik.php
All are welcome!