Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder, in which patients experience an abnormal sense of self. While deficits in sensorimotor self-representation (agency) are well documented in schizophrenia, less is known about other aspects of bodily self-representation (body ownership). Here, we tested a large cohort (N = 59) of chronic schizophrenia patients and matched controls (N = 30) on a well-established body illusion paradigm, the Full Body Illusion (FBI). In this paradigm, changes in body ownership are induced through prolonged multisensory stimulation, in which participants are stroked on their back while seeing the stroking on the back of a virtual body. When the felt and seen stroking are synchronous, participants typically feel higher identification with the seen body as well as a drift in self-location towards it. However, when the stroking is asynchronous, no such changes occur. Our results show no evidence for abnormal body ownership in schizophrenia patients. A meta-analysis of previous work corroborates this result. Thus, while schizophrenia patients may be impaired in the sense of agency, their multisensory bodily self-representation, as tested here, seems to be unaffected by the illness.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) SYNAPSY financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no. 565557 NCCR SYN P14 LPSY) and R.S. was also supported by NCCR-SYNAPSY (grant no. n 51AU40_125759).
© The Author(s) 2017.
- bodily illusions
- body ownership
- multisensory integration