Research Topics

Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Social and Intimate Virtual Touch

Social and Intimate Virtual Touch

Studies indicate that seeing other people being touched or painfully stimulated activates similar brain areas as when we are experiencing actual touch or pain. There is also evidence that Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) can be used to induce a strong ownership illusion over a virtual body and to elicit extremely veridical vicarious experiences. In this line of research, we employ IVR to investigate the effects of seeing touches on an embodied virtual body and thus study sensitive issues that can otherwise be explored only through imagination (e.g., touches on taboo zones). The neurophysiological underpinnings of social and intimate virtual touches are investigated coupling IVR with different neuroscientific techniques such as non-invasive brain stimulation, electroencephalography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Related recent Publications:

  • Mello M., Fusaro M., Tieri G., Aglioti S.M. Wearing same-and opposite-sex virtual bodies and seeing them caressed in intimate areas. Preprint, under review
  • Fusaro M., Lisi M., Tieri G., Aglioti S.M. (2021). Heterosexual, gay, and lesbian people’s reactivity to virtual caresses on their embodied avatars’ taboo zones. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 1-12. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-81168-w
  • Fusaro, M., Tieri, G., & Aglioti, S. M. (2019). Influence of cognitive stance and physical perspective on subjective and autonomic reactivity to observed pain and pleasure: An immersive virtual reality study. Consciousness and cognition, 67, 86-97. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.11.010
  • Fusaro, M., Tieri, G., & Aglioti, S. M. (2016). Seeing pain and pleasure on self and others: behavioral and psychophysiological reactivity in immersive virtual reality. Journal of Neurophysiology, 116(6), 2656-2662. doi: 10.1152/jn.00489.2016

Main characters in this research line: Martina Fusaro, Matteo Lisi, Manuel Mello, Gaetano Tieri, Luca Provenzano, Valentina Nicolardi, Chiara Verga, Ilaria Minio-Paluello

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