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“ I can ’ t tell whether it ’ s my hand ” : a pilot study of the neurophenomenology of body representation during the rubber hand illusion in trauma-related disorders

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background: Early traumatic experiences are thought to be causal factors in the development of trauma-related dissociative experiences, including depersonalization and derealization. The rubber hand illusion (RHI), a well-known paradigm that measures multi-sensorial integration of a rubber hand into one’s own body representation, has been used to investigate alterations in the experience of body ownership and of body representation. Critically, however, it has never been studied in individuals with trauma-related disorders.

Objective: To investigate body representation distortions occurring in trauma-related disorders in response to the RHI.

Method: The RHI was administered to three individuals with the dissociative subtype of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and subjective, behavioral, cardiovascular and skin conductance responses were recorded.

Results: Participants’ subjective experiences of the RHI were differentiated and complex. The illusion was induced following both synchronous and asynchronous brushing and variably evoked subjective distress, depersonalization and derealization experiences, tonic immobility, increased physiological arousal and flashbacks.

Conclusions: The present findings point towards the RHI as a strong provocation stimulus that elicits individual patterns of symptom presentation, including experiences of distress and dissociation, in individuals with trauma-related disorders, including the dissociative subtype of PTSD.

Highlights of the article: The rubber hand illusion (RHI) elicits distress, tonic immobility, depersonalization and derealization, and autonomic responses in individuals with trauma-related disorders, including the dissociative subtype of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Highlights of the article: RHI effects related to body misrepresentation may trigger altered experiences related to body ownership.

Highlights of the article: The RHI represents a promising paradigm for studying the neurophenomenology of body distortion in individuals experiencing trauma-related altered states of consciousness (TRASC).

No MeSH data available.


Physiological data. The graph depicts the heart rate variability (left y-axis) and galvanic skin conductance (GSC) obtained for both Stephanie and Dawn during each stage of the RHI experiment. (a) Standard deviation of interbeat intervals (SDNN) is an overall indicator of total HRV, whereas root mean square of interval differences (RMSDD) is an indicator of vagal outflow, a proxy for parasympathetic activity. Both Stephanie and Dawn experienced overall decreases in SDNN and RMSDD during the RHI experiment. Stephanie experienced gradual declines in both SDNN and RMSDD. Dawn showed higher SDNN and RMSDD values than Stephanie but still showed a gradual decline in RMSDD. Dawn experienced a sharp decrease from rest in SDNN after the asynchronous (asynch) trial, but instead showed a slight increase after the synchronous (synch) brushing. (b) GSC is an indicator of sympathetic arousal, as it measures sweat gland activity. In both Stephanie and Dawn, there was a progressive increase in skin conductance throughout the experiment. In Stephanie, there was a significantly greater increase following the synchronous trial when compared to the increase observed after the asynchronous trial.
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Figure 0003: Physiological data. The graph depicts the heart rate variability (left y-axis) and galvanic skin conductance (GSC) obtained for both Stephanie and Dawn during each stage of the RHI experiment. (a) Standard deviation of interbeat intervals (SDNN) is an overall indicator of total HRV, whereas root mean square of interval differences (RMSDD) is an indicator of vagal outflow, a proxy for parasympathetic activity. Both Stephanie and Dawn experienced overall decreases in SDNN and RMSDD during the RHI experiment. Stephanie experienced gradual declines in both SDNN and RMSDD. Dawn showed higher SDNN and RMSDD values than Stephanie but still showed a gradual decline in RMSDD. Dawn experienced a sharp decrease from rest in SDNN after the asynchronous (asynch) trial, but instead showed a slight increase after the synchronous (synch) brushing. (b) GSC is an indicator of sympathetic arousal, as it measures sweat gland activity. In both Stephanie and Dawn, there was a progressive increase in skin conductance throughout the experiment. In Stephanie, there was a significantly greater increase following the synchronous trial when compared to the increase observed after the asynchronous trial.

Mentions: Please see Fig. 3 for a summary of physiological measures obtained.


“ I can ’ t tell whether it ’ s my hand ” : a pilot study of the neurophenomenology of body representation during the rubber hand illusion in trauma-related disorders
Physiological data. The graph depicts the heart rate variability (left y-axis) and galvanic skin conductance (GSC) obtained for both Stephanie and Dawn during each stage of the RHI experiment. (a) Standard deviation of interbeat intervals (SDNN) is an overall indicator of total HRV, whereas root mean square of interval differences (RMSDD) is an indicator of vagal outflow, a proxy for parasympathetic activity. Both Stephanie and Dawn experienced overall decreases in SDNN and RMSDD during the RHI experiment. Stephanie experienced gradual declines in both SDNN and RMSDD. Dawn showed higher SDNN and RMSDD values than Stephanie but still showed a gradual decline in RMSDD. Dawn experienced a sharp decrease from rest in SDNN after the asynchronous (asynch) trial, but instead showed a slight increase after the synchronous (synch) brushing. (b) GSC is an indicator of sympathetic arousal, as it measures sweat gland activity. In both Stephanie and Dawn, there was a progressive increase in skin conductance throughout the experiment. In Stephanie, there was a significantly greater increase following the synchronous trial when compared to the increase observed after the asynchronous trial.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5120383&req=5

Figure 0003: Physiological data. The graph depicts the heart rate variability (left y-axis) and galvanic skin conductance (GSC) obtained for both Stephanie and Dawn during each stage of the RHI experiment. (a) Standard deviation of interbeat intervals (SDNN) is an overall indicator of total HRV, whereas root mean square of interval differences (RMSDD) is an indicator of vagal outflow, a proxy for parasympathetic activity. Both Stephanie and Dawn experienced overall decreases in SDNN and RMSDD during the RHI experiment. Stephanie experienced gradual declines in both SDNN and RMSDD. Dawn showed higher SDNN and RMSDD values than Stephanie but still showed a gradual decline in RMSDD. Dawn experienced a sharp decrease from rest in SDNN after the asynchronous (asynch) trial, but instead showed a slight increase after the synchronous (synch) brushing. (b) GSC is an indicator of sympathetic arousal, as it measures sweat gland activity. In both Stephanie and Dawn, there was a progressive increase in skin conductance throughout the experiment. In Stephanie, there was a significantly greater increase following the synchronous trial when compared to the increase observed after the asynchronous trial.
Mentions: Please see Fig. 3 for a summary of physiological measures obtained.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background: Early traumatic experiences are thought to be causal factors in the development of trauma-related dissociative experiences, including depersonalization and derealization. The rubber hand illusion (RHI), a well-known paradigm that measures multi-sensorial integration of a rubber hand into one’s own body representation, has been used to investigate alterations in the experience of body ownership and of body representation. Critically, however, it has never been studied in individuals with trauma-related disorders.

Objective: To investigate body representation distortions occurring in trauma-related disorders in response to the RHI.

Method: The RHI was administered to three individuals with the dissociative subtype of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and subjective, behavioral, cardiovascular and skin conductance responses were recorded.

Results: Participants’ subjective experiences of the RHI were differentiated and complex. The illusion was induced following both synchronous and asynchronous brushing and variably evoked subjective distress, depersonalization and derealization experiences, tonic immobility, increased physiological arousal and flashbacks.

Conclusions: The present findings point towards the RHI as a strong provocation stimulus that elicits individual patterns of symptom presentation, including experiences of distress and dissociation, in individuals with trauma-related disorders, including the dissociative subtype of PTSD.

Highlights of the article: The rubber hand illusion (RHI) elicits distress, tonic immobility, depersonalization and derealization, and autonomic responses in individuals with trauma-related disorders, including the dissociative subtype of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Highlights of the article: RHI effects related to body misrepresentation may trigger altered experiences related to body ownership.

Highlights of the article: The RHI represents a promising paradigm for studying the neurophenomenology of body distortion in individuals experiencing trauma-related altered states of consciousness (TRASC).

No MeSH data available.