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The Detached Self: Investigating the Effect of Depersonalisation on Self-Bias in the Visual Remapping of Touch

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posted on 12.10.2020 by Harry Farmer, Antonio Cataldo, Nagela Adel, Emma Wignall, Vittorio Gallese, Ophelia Deroy, Antonia Hamilton, Anna Ciaunica

There is a growing consensus that our most fundamental sense of self is structured by the ongoing integration of sensory and motor information related to our own body. Depersonalisation (DP) is an intriguing form of altered subjective experience in which people report feelings of unreality and detachment from their sense of self. The current study used the visual remapping of touch (VRT) paradigm to explore self-bias in visual–tactile integration in non-clinical participants reporting high and low levels of depersonalisation experiences. We found that the high-DP group showed an increased overall VRT effect but a no-self-face bias, instead showing a greater VRT effect when observing the face of another person. In addition, across all participants, self-bias was negatively predicted by the occurrence of anomalous body experiences. These results indicate disrupted integration of tactile and visual representations of the bodily self in those experiencing high levels of DP and provide greater understanding of how disruptions in multisensory perception of the self may underlie the phenomenology of depersonalisation.

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