Effects of symmetry and apparent distance in a parasagittal-mirror variant of the rubber hand illusion paradigm

Jhana de Silva, Haiwen Chen, Sasha Isaac, Rebekah C. White, Martin Davies, Anne M. Aimola Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


When I see my face in a mirror, its apparent position (behind the glass) is not one that my own face could be in. I accept the face I see as my own because I have an implicit understanding of how mirrors work. The situation is different if I look at the reflection of my right hand in a parasagittal mirror (parallel to body midline) when my left hand is hidden behind the mirror. It is as if I were looking through a window at my own left hand. The experience of body ownership has been investigated using rubber hand illusion (RHI) paradigms, and several studies have demonstrated ownership of a rubber hand viewed in a frontal mirror. Our “proof of concept” study was the first to combine use of a parasagittal mirror and synchronous stroking of both a prosthetic hand (viewed in the mirror) and the participant’s hand, with a manipulation of distance between the hands. The strength of the RHI elicited by our parasagittal-mirror paradigm depended not on physical distance between the hands (30, 45, or 60 cm) but on apparent distance between the prosthetic hand (viewed in the mirror) and the participant’s hand. This apparent distance was reduced to zero when the prosthetic hand and participant’s hand were arranged symmetrically (e.g., 30 cm in front of and behind the mirror). Thus, the parasagittal-mirror paradigm may provide a distinctive way to assess whether competition for ownership depends on spatial separation between the prosthetic hand and the participant’s hand.

Original languageEnglish
Article number718177
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2021


  • body ownership
  • distance
  • mirror box
  • multisensory integration
  • parasagittal mirror
  • peripersonal space
  • rubber hand illusion
  • symmetry

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