Does self extend to video game avatars? An ERP study


The extended mind hypothesis suggests that the boundaries of self are extended to that which can be controlled directly. Avatars in video games fit this description but are not embodied in the way generally assumed by EM theory, thus providing an opportunity to test the generality of the hypothesis in a domain that actually invites mental extension of self beyond body boundaries. We compare ERP responses to images of self, own avatar, other avatar, own possessions (real & virtual), and other possessions (real and virtual) after participants have spent three weeks playing both Second Life (avatar designed and directly controlled by player) and Sims 3 (avatar generally configured but not directly controlled). We test the hypotheses that N170 waveforms are distinct for images of the self and of others, while N250 is different for personal possessions and unfamiliar objects and P300 functions as an index of attention to self-relevant stimuli.

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