Mirror, mirror, on the wall, is that even my hand at all? Changes in the afterimage of one's reflection in a mirror in response to bodily movement

J. Brendan Ritchie, Thomas Carlson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Successful mirror self-recognition has often been considered a correlate of self-awareness in human development and phylogeny (Gallup, 1982). Studies have also shown that vision and touch interact such that objects viewed in a mirror's reflection are recoded as originating from a location within reachable, or peripersonal, space (Maravita et al. 2002). However, the association of mirror self-recognition and self-awareness is controversial, and the mechanism that underlies the recoding of visual information into peripersonal space remains an open question. In the present study, we address these issues through the novel use of an old paradigm: positive afterimages. It has been shown that when a positive afterimage is induced, and a limb is displaced from its apparent location in the afterimage, the afterimage of the limb fades or " crumbles" (Davies, 1973). We reproduced this effect in conditions where subjects viewed the afterimage of their arms' reflection using a frontally placed mirror and mirror box (Ramachandran & Rogers-Ramachandran, 1996). Our results suggest that the explicit knowledge that one is looking at a mirror as well as online visual feedback from bodily movement are unlikely to be responsible for previously observed interactions between vision and touch. Instead, we propose that a sense of ownership, and (bodily) self-awareness, might in part explain these interactions between vision and proprioception, which provides a partial vindication of the inference from successful mirror self-recognition to self-awareness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495-1500
Number of pages6
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume48
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Mirrors
  • Proprioception
  • Self-recognition
  • Vision

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