Background: Schizophrenia is a disorder of basic self-disturbance. Evidence suggests that people with schizophrenia may have aberrant experiences of body ownership: they may feel that they are not the subject of their own body experiences. However, little is known about the development of such disturbances. Methods: Using a rubber hand illusion paradigm, we assessed body ownership in patients with schizophrenia (n = 54), healthy controls (n = 56), children/adolescents at increased familial risk of developing schizophrenia (n = 24) or mood disorders (n = 33), and children/adolescents without this risk (n = 18). In this paradigm, a rubber hand (visible) and a participant’s real hand (invisible) were stroked synchronously and asynchronously; we then measured subjective illusory experiences and proprioceptive drift. Results: All groups showed the expected effect of the rubber hand illusion: stronger proprioceptive drift and increased subjective illusory experiences after synchronous versus asynchronous stroking. The effect of synchronicity on subjective experiences was significantly weaker in patients with schizophrenia than in healthy controls, and subjective ratings were positively correlated with delusions in patients. We found no significant differences between children/adolescents with and without increased familial risk. Limitations: Large individual differences raised questions for future research. Conclusion: We found subtle disturbances in body-ownership experiences in patients with schizophrenia, which were associated with delusions. We found no evidence for impairments in children/adolescents at increased familial risk of developing schizophrenia or a mood disorder. Longitudinal data might reveal whether impairments in body ownership are predictive of psychosis onset.

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Journal Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Prikken, M., van der Weiden, A., Baalbergen, H., Hillegers, M.H.J, Kahn, R.S, Aarts, H, & van Haren, N.E.M. (2019). Multisensory integration underlying body-ownership experiences in schizophrenia and offspring of patients: a study using the rubber hand illusion paradigm. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 44(3), 177–184. doi:10.1503/jpn.180049