Comparing embodiment experiences in expert meditators and non-meditators using the rubber hand illusion.

Author: Xu A1, Cullen BH2, Penner C3, Zimmerman C3, Kerr CE4, Schmalzl L5
1Department of Cognitive, Linguistics, & Psychological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI, United States; Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States. Electronic address:
2Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, United States.
3Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI, United States.
4Department of Family Medicine, Alpert Medical School, United States.
5College of Science and Integrative Health, Southern California University of Health Sciences, Whittier, CA, United States.
Conference/Journal: Conscious Cogn.
Date published: 2018 Oct 15
Other: Volume ID: 65 , Pages: 325-333 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.09.003. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 162

One assessment of embodiment is the rubber hand illusion (RHI), a visuo-tactile illusion in which individuals attribute a sense of ownership to a rubber hand and disownership to their real hand. Interestingly, interoception seems to influence RHI susceptibility. In this study, we administered the RHI and the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) to examine embodiment experiences and interoceptive awareness in experienced meditators (n = 15) and non-meditators (n = 15). We found that meditators reported less intensity in rubber hand ownership, but there was no significant difference between groups with respect to disownership of their real hand or drift in finger proprioception. Moreover, we found, from our MAIA results, that disownership experiences were associated with a feeling of trusting one's body in non-meditators and with the ability to maintain attention to unpleasant bodily sensations in meditators. These results suggest a unique relationship between interoceptive awareness and embodiment related to meditation.

KEYWORDS: Bodily self; Embodiment; Interoceptive awareness; Mindfulness meditation; Rubber hand illusion

PMID: 30336416 DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.09.003