Feeling the burn: when it looks like it hurts, and belongs to me, it really does hurt more

Melita Joy Giummarra, Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis, Antonio Javier Verdejo-Garcia, Stephen J Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


We examined changes in pain sensitivity in the rubber hand illusion (RHI). Experiment 1 investigated changes in pain tolerance immediately after a healthy and wounded RHI when immersing the hand in a cold pressor ice bath. There was 19 increased pain tolerance and increased perception detection threshold after the healthy RHI, but 11 reduction after the wounded RHI. Experiment 2 examined pain experience during the wounded RHI with capsaicin-induced hyperalgesia. Pain intensity and unpleasantness was higher on the illusion arm during the synchronous RHI, compared with asynchronous trials. There was no change in pain experience on the control arm, and both arms had similar pain sensitivity after the experiment. Our results highlight the impact of embodying a substitute limb on pain, with increased tolerance and reduced tactile sensitivity when the fake limb is healthy and apparently pain-free, but increased pain sensitivity when the self-attributed limb appears to be wounded
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314 - 326
Number of pages13
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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