Virtually Ourselves

Virtual reality technology (VR) has become increasingly adept at enabling subjects to feel present in virtual worlds. Arguably, the heart of this phenomenon is the experience of oneself as a virtual body within the virtual world perceived. Unconstrained by the bounds of physical reality, VR thus presents the promise of otherwise impossible forms of self-conscious experience, thus stretching our current understanding of the limits of our self-conscious experience.

This CFS workshop will bring together philosophers, psychologists, VR researchers and VR artists to explore the relationship between illusory experience in VR and contemporary psychological and philosophical conceptions of self-consciousness.

The workshop will include presentations and demonstrations by:

  • Bigna Lenggenhager and Marte Roel (University of Zurich)
  • Raphaël Milliere (University of Oxford)
  • Betty Mohler (MPI Tübingen)
  • Mel Slater (University of Barcelona)
  • Mariam Zakarian (Amaryllis VR)
  • Aske Mottelson (University of Copenhagen)

Other confirmed participants include:

  • Adrian Alsmith (University of Copenhagen)
  • Thor Grünbaum (University of Copenhagen)
  • Kasper Hornbæk (University of Copenhagen)
  • Alisa Mandrigin (University of Stirling)
  • Anastasia Pavlidou (CNRS Marseille)
  • Daniel Perez-Marcos (MindMaze)
  • Andrea Serino (EPFL)
  • Hong Yu Wong (University of Tübingen)

The workshop has been made possible by support from the Volkswagen Foundation as part of the Finding Perspective research project.







 Mel Slater

Transforming the self through virtual embodiment




 Betty Mohler

Selves and their (virtual) environments


 Raphaël Milliere

A critical commentary on the notions of self-location
and first-person perspective 




Bigna Lenggenhager 
and Marte Roel

Demo – Plasticity of the acoustic self: voice, vibration
and internal bodily sounds for studying and
manipulating the self  


Mariam Zakarian

Demo – Amaryllis VR




Aske Mottelson

Demo – Subconscious Affect Manipulation in
Virtual Reality





Mel Slater (University of Barcelona & UCL)
Transforming the Self Through Virtual Embodiment

Immersive virtual reality (IVR) has been successfully exploited in the study of body ownership illusions - a topic that contributes to the question of how the human brain represents the body (1). This is made possible because with a head-tracked wide field of view head-mounted display, and other tracking and stimulation equipment, it is possible to visually substitute a person’s real body by a virtual body (VB), that is coincident in space with the real body, moves synchronously with it, and where visuotactile synchronisation is possible with respect to seen events on the VB and the corresponding stimuli felt on the real one (2). Such a process of virtual embodiment typically gives rise to the perceptual illusion of ownership and the illusion agency with respect to the virtual body (3). Here we explore how IVR may be used to transform the self providing examples ranging from racial bias (4-6), psychological problems (7, 8) and illusory agency (9). 

Betty Mohler (MPI Tübingen & DTU Darmstadt)
Selves and their (Virtual) Environments

Virtual reality (VR) is a highly effective tool for manipulating the visual body, the contents of the visual world and actions within it. At the same time, the scientific study of perception and action in virtual environments has clear implications for the design specifications of VR software and technology. I will present a series of studies designed to compare the ways in which various display technologies and simulated contents influence subjects’ ability to judge the size and shape of their bodies and perform highly determinate self-location judgements.

Raphaël Milliere (Oxford)
A critical commentary on the notions of self-location and first-person perspective

A critical commentary on the notions of self-location and first-person perspective
During the last ten years, researchers have investigated key aspects of bodily self-consciousness with full-body illusions, a range of experimental paradigms relying on visuo-tactile and visuo-vestibular stimulation with a head-mounted display to manipulate trunk-related multisensory processing. This research project has provided empirical evidence for the distinction between three aspects of self-consciousness, namely the sense of body ownership, the sense of self-location and the first-person perspective. While the notion of body ownership is the focus of an ongoing debate in philosophy of mind, less attention has been devoted to the notions of self-location and first-person perspective. In this presentation, I will examine the construct validity of these notions. In particular, I will suggest that there are lingering ambiguities in the way these notions are commonly used in the scientific literature on full-body illusions. I will tentatively propose further theoretical distinctions to remedy these ambiguities, and discuss how researchers might seek empirical evidence for them

Registration is now closed. 

Contact: Adrian Alsmith