The rubber hand illusion in complex regional pain syndrome: Preserved ability to integrate a rubber hand indicates intact multisensory integration

Annika Reinersmann, Julia Landwehrt, Elena K. Krumova, Jutta Peterburs, Sebastian Ocklenburg, Onur Güntürkün, Christoph Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) type 1, processing of static tactile stimuli is impaired, whereas more complex sensory integration functions appear preserved. This study investigated higher order multisensory integration of body-relevant stimuli using the rubber hand illusion in CRPS patients. Subjective self-reports and skin conductance responses to watching the rubber hand being harmed were compared among CRPS patients (N = 24), patients with upper limb pain of other origin (N = 21, clinical control group), and healthy subjects (N = 24). Additionally, the influence of body representation (body plasticity [Trinity Assessment of Body Plasticity], neglect-like severity symptoms), and clinical signs of illusion strength were investigated. For statistical analysis, 1-way analysis of variance, t test, Pearson correlation, with α = 0.05 were used. CRPS patients did not differ from healthy subjects and the control group with regard to their illusion strength as assessed by subjective reports or skin conductance response values. Stronger left-sided rubber hand illusions were reported by healthy subjects and left-side-affected CRPS patients. Moreover, for this subgroup, illness duration and illusion strength were negatively correlated. Overall, severity of neglect-like symptoms and clinical signs were not related to illusion strength. However, patients with CRPS of the right hand reported significantly stronger neglect-like symptoms and significantly lower illusion strength of the affected hand than patients with CRPS of the left hand. The weaker illusion of CRPS patients with strong neglect-like symptoms on the affected hand supports the role of top-down processes modulating body ownership. Moreover, the intact ability to perceive illusory ownership confirms the notion that, despite impaired processing of proprioceptive or tactile input, higher order multisensory integration is unaffected in CRPS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1519-1527
Number of pages9
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Body image
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Cortical reorganization
  • Rubber hand illusion
  • Sense of ownership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The rubber hand illusion in complex regional pain syndrome: Preserved ability to integrate a rubber hand indicates intact multisensory integration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this