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Body-swapping experiment with an android / Investigation of the relationship between agency and a sense of ownership toward a different body

Experiment was conducted at Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories between June and July 2016.

Since ancient time philosophers have cogitated about the very essence of our being, with the aim to unravel the complex relationship between the mind and the body.  The concept and nature of our bodily existence has been repeatedly redefined and reconceived with the perpetual progress in science and technological advantages. Body ownership refers to one’s self-attribution of a body. It has a possessive character and it implies that the body is the source of the experienced sensations. Body self-recognition is facilitated by immersing participants in a virtual environment, which is essential for full-body illusion paradigms in which participants are required to wear a virtual reality headset. For this purpose we focused on artificially induced embodiment by using the method of immersive virtual reality, a technology that seems ideally suited to research this area.  Such experiments usually employ virtual bodies (e.g. avatars or mannequins), while in our study virtual bodies are replaced by the body of a humanoid robot Geminoid HI-2, a robot which can simulate human motion by fifty degrees of freedom. In our study we employ a real tactile sensation and do not use haptic devices like vibration motors which are often used in neuroscience to increase the embodiment effect.