Awareness of one’s body is intimately linked to self-identity, the sense of being “me” . A key question is how the brain integrates different sensory signals from the body to produce the experience of this body as mine, known as sense of body-ownership. Converging evidence suggests that the integration of exteroceptive signals related to the body, such as vision and touch, produces or even alters the sense of body-ownership . However, multisensory integration conveys information about the body as perceived from the outside, and hence, represents only one channel of information available for self-awareness. Interoception, defined here as the sense of the physiological condition of the body, is a ubiquitous information channel used to represent one’s body from within. While the effects of exteroception on the physiological regulation of the body have been recently documented, little is known on whether interoceptive awareness may influence exteroceptive representations of one’s body. We, therefore, sought to understand the interaction between interoceptive and exteroceptive awareness of the body using interoceptive sensitivity measures and bodily illusions.
Tsakiris M, Tajadura-Jimenez A & Costantini M (2011). Just a heartbeat away from one’s body: interoceptive sensitivity predicts malleability of body representations. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, Biological Sciences. 278(1717):2470-6.