Ownership of an artificial limb induced by electrical brain stimulation

Kelly L. Collins, Arvid Guterstam, Jeneva Cronin, Jared D. Olson, H. Henrik Ehrsson, Jeffrey G. Ojemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Replacing the function of a missing or paralyzed limb with a prosthetic device that acts and feels like one's own limb is a major goal in applied neuroscience. Recent studies in nonhuman primates have shown that motor control and sensory feedback can be achieved by connecting sensors in a robotic arm to electrodes implanted in the brain. However, it remains unknown whether electrical brain stimulationcanbeusedtocreateasenseofownershipofanartificiallimb. In this study on two human subjects, we show that ownership of an artificial hand can be induced via the electrical stimulation of the hand section of the somatosensory (SI) cortex in synchrony with touches applied to a rubber hand. Importantly, the illusion was not elicited when the electrical stimulation was delivered asynchronously or to a portion of the SI cortex representing a body part other than the hand, suggesting that multisensory integration according to basic spatial and temporal congruence rules is the underlying mechanism of the illusion. These findings show that the brain is capable of integrating "natural" visual input and direct cortical-somatosensory stimulation to create the multisensory perception that an artificial limb belongs to one's own body. Thus, they serve as a proof of concept that electrical brain stimulation can be used to "bypass" the peripheral nervous system to induce multisensory illusions and ownership of artificial body parts, which has important implications for patients who lack peripheral sensory input due to spinal cord or nerve lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-171
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Body perception|electrical brain stimulation
  • Multisensory integration
  • Neuroprosthetics
  • Self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Ownership of an artificial limb induced by electrical brain stimulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this