Electroencephalographic evidence for the involvement of mirror-neuron and error-monitoring related processes in virtual body ownership

Gal Raz*, Guy Gurevitch, Tom Vaknin, Araz Aazamy, Iddo Gefen, Stanislaw Grunstein, Gal Azouri, Noam Goldway

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The illusion that an artificial or virtual object becomes part of one's body has been demonstrated and productively investigated in the past two decades. Empirical and theoretical accounts of this phenomenon suggest that the body ownership illusion relies not on a single process, but rather on the alignment of the biological and the alternative bodies across multiple aspects. However, the portrayal of these aspects and the demarcation of their neurophysiological correlates has yet to be established. Our study examines electroencephalographic (EEG) markers of two extensively studied systems in the context of virtual body ownership illusion: the mirror-neuron system (MNS) and the error-monitoring system (EMS). We designed an experimental manipulation of brief involuntary and unexpected virtual hand bounces, which triggers both systems, and examined how the response of EEG markers of these systems to this manipulation is modulated by three aspects of body ownership: agency, visuotactile synchronicity, and semantic congruence between the participant's hands and its virtual representation. We found evidence for enhanced MNS-related power suppression at the Mu band in the synchronous and semantic congruence conditions. On the other hand, the EMS-related Pe/P300 wave was reduced by semantic congruence. This Pe/P300 effect was stronger among participants who exhibited higher acceptance of the spatial illusion and an increased tendency for affective empathy. Mu power and Pe/P300 were not correlated, suggesting a dissociation between the distinct aspects of body ownership they probe. The findings suggest that synchronicity and semantic congruence induce sensorimotor sensitivity to the alternative body, whereas the latter parameter also buffers minor erroneous virtual motions. These neurophysiological markers may be added to the arsenal of body ownership probes and incorporated into VR rehabilitation protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116351
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2020


FundersFunder number
Oxley Foundation
Sagol family fund
Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression
Israel Science Foundation1333/19


    • Body ownership illusion
    • Error-monitoring system
    • Mirror-neuron system
    • Mu suppression
    • P300
    • Pe
    • Virtual reality


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