Medically unexplained symptom reports are associated with a decreased response to the rubber hand illusion

Miles, Eleanor, Poliakoff, Ellen and Brown, Richard J (2011) Medically unexplained symptom reports are associated with a decreased response to the rubber hand illusion. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 71 (4). pp. 240-244. ISSN 0022-3999

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Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) have been hypothesized to result from a distortion in perception, whereby top-down factors influence the process of body representation. Perceptual illusions provide a novel method of investigating this hypothesis. This study aimed to investigate whether self-reported unexplained symptoms are associated with altered experience of the rubber hand illusion (RHI).

A non-clinical MUS group with high scores on the Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire (SDQ), and a control group with low scores on this scale, were exposed to the RHI. Illusion experience was measured by self-reports and by proprioceptive alteration.

After controlling for somatosensory amplification and trait anxiety, the low-SDQ group responded significantly more strongly to the RHI on both questionnaire and proprioceptive measures of the illusion. In contrast, the high-SDQ group scored significantly higher on the Perceptual Aberrations Scale, a measure of bodily distortions in daily life.

These findings support the proposed link between MUS and disturbances in body representation, and suggest that a decreased reliance on current sensory inputs may contribute to symptom experience in susceptible individuals.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Medically unexplained symptoms; Rubber hand illusion; Body perception
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Depositing User: Eleanor Miles
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2013 14:40
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2017 11:05

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