Dr Jane Aspell, PhD, MBPsS
Senior Lecturer in PsychologyLocation: Cambridge, COS 306
Tel: 0845 196 2258
MA(Oxon) Biological Sciences - University of Oxford
PhD in Neuroscience: University of Newcastle
Personal profile / teaching experienceBiopsychology
Diagnosis & Treatment in Clinical Child Psychology (MSc module)
Learning, Memory & Perception
Current Theoretical Issues in Cognitive Neuroscience (MSc module) Psychology
Research interestsMy ongoing research goal is to investigate how the multisensory representation of the body provides the neurobiological basis for the self.
To do this I run behavioural, psychophysical and neurophysiological (EEG) experiments in which multisensory conflicts are generated in order to distort self perception in healthy participants. I am interested in how both exteroceptive (visual, tactile and proprioceptive) and interoceptive (cardiac and gastrointestinal) signals are combined by the brain to give rise to bodily self-consciousness. My research aims to answer questions such as: How is the self related to the body? Which brain mechanisms are crucial for self-consciousness? How does the conscious experience of being a self with and within a body emerge from the integration of signals from multiple sensory modalities? And how do these more basic processes provide the foundation for 'higher', more conceptual levels of self?
PublicationsAspell, J.E.*, Heydrich, L.*, Marillier, G., Tom Lavanchy, T., Herbelin, B. & Blanke, O. (2013) Turning body and self inside out: Visualized heartbeats alter bodily self-consciousness and tactile perception. Psychological Science 24(12), 2445-2453.
Link to full text: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/24/12/2445.short
Heydrich, L., Dodds, T., Aspell, J.E., Herbelin, B., Buelthoff, H., Mohler, B., & Blanke, O. (2013). Visual capture and the experience of having two bodies-Evidence from two different virtual reality techniques. Frontiers in Psychology 4: 946.
Link to full text: www.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00946/abstract
Rognini, G., Sengül, A., Aspell, J. E., Salomon, R., Bleuler, H., & Blanke, O. (2013) Visuo-tactile integration and body ownership during self-generated action. European Journal of Neuroscience 37 (7): 1120-1129
Link to full text: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ejn.12128/full
Sengül, A., Rognini, G., van Elk, M., Aspell, J. E., Bleuler, H., & Blanke, O. (2013) Force feedback facilitates multisensory integration during robotic tool use. Experimental Brain Research 227(4) 497-507
Link to full text: link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00221-013-3526-0
Sengül, A., van Elk, M., Rognini, G., Aspell, J.E., Bleuler, H. & Blanke, O. (2012) Extending the Body to Virtual Tools Using a Robotic Surgical Interface: Evidence from the Crossmodal Congruency Task. PLoS ONE 7(12): e4947
Link to full text: www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0049473 (See foot of page for downloadable PDF of paper)
Salmon, R., van Elk, M., Aspell, J.E. & Blanke, O. (2012) I feel who I see: Visual body identity affects visual-tactile integration in peripersonal space. Consciousness and Cognition 21: 1355-1364
Link to full text: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810012001547
Aspell, J.E., Palluel, E. & Blanke, O. (2012) Early and late activity in somatosensory cortex reflects changes in bodily self-consciousness: An evoked potential study. Neuroscience 216: 110-122
Link to full text: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306452212004010
E. Palluel, J. E. Aspell, T. Lavanchy and O. Blanke (2012) Experimental changes in bodily self-consciousness are tuned to the frequency sensitivity of proprioceptive fibres. Neuroreport 23: 354-359
Link to full text: journals.lww.com/neuroreport/Abstract/2012/04180/Experimental_changes_in_bodily_self_consciousness.4.aspx
E. Palluel, J. E. Aspell, and O. Blanke (2011) Leg muscle vibration modulates bodily self-consciousness: integration of proprioceptive, visual, and tactile signals. Journal of neurophysiology, 105(5):2239-47
Link to full text: jn.physiology.org/content/105/5/2239.full
J. E. Aspell, T. Lavanchy, B. Lenggenhager, and O. Blanke (2010) Seeing the body modulates audiotactile integration. European journal of neuroscience 31(10):1868-73
Link to full text: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07210.x/full
J.E. Aspell, J. Wattam-Bell; J. Atkinson & O. Braddick (2010) Differential human brain activation by vertical and horizontal global visual textures. Experimental Brain Research 202 (3): 669-679
Link to full text: www.springerlink.com/content/q2r267v872476515/
J. E. Aspell, B. Lenggenhager, and O. Blanke (2009) Keeping in touch with one's self: multisensory mechanisms of self-consciousness. PloS ONE, 4(8):e6488
*See foot of page for downloadable PDF of paper
J.E. Aspell, J. Wattam-Bell & O. Braddick (2006) Interaction of spatial and temporal integration in global form processing. Vision Research 46: 2834-2841.
Link to full text: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698906001180
J.E. Aspell, T. Tanskanen & A.C. Hurlbert (2005) Neuromagnetic correlates of visual motion coherence. European Journal of Neuroscience 22: 2937-2945.
Link to full text: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2005.04473.x/full
Book chapters/other publications
J.E. Aspell, B. Lenggenhager, and O. Blanke. (2011) Multisensory perception and bodily self-consciousness: from out-of body to inside-body experience. In M. M. Murray and M. T. Wallace, editors, The Neural Bases of Multisensory Processes, Frontiers in Neuroscience CRC Press
Link to (free) full text: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92870/
J.E. Aspell and O. Blanke (2009) Understanding the out-of-body experience from a neuroscientific perspective. In C. D. Murray, editor, Psychological Scientific Perspectives on Out of Body and Near Death Experiences, Psychology Research Progress, pages 73-88. Nova Science Publishers, New York, 2009.
O. Blanke and J. E. Aspell (2009) Brain technologies raise unprecedented ethical challenges. Nature, 458(7239):703 Comment on: Nature 457(7233):1080-1
Link to full text: www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7239/full/458703b.html
Wall Street Journal (August 2013): "Researchers Study Self-Knowledge (Literally)"
The Telegraph (August 2013): "Scientists trigger 'out-of-body' experience using heartbeats"
Daily Mail (August 2013): "Lights that flash in time with your heart can trigger 'out-of-body' experiences"
New Scientist magazine (June 2013): "Heartbeat used to generate out-of-body experience."
New Scientist magazine: "Out-of-body experiences help bring avatars to life"
Interviewed for ABC TV, Australia, on science programme Catalyst (topic: "Out of Body Experiences")
Link to video: www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/2816872.htm
Extending the Body to Virtual Tools Using a Robotic Surgical Interface: Evidence from the Crossmodal Congruency Task (241 Kb)
Public engagement eventsPublic talk at Cambridge Science Festival (12th March 2014): "The neuroscience of self: How the brain creates 'me'"
Public Talk at Cambridge Festival of Ideas (2013): "Boundaries between Self & World"
Panel Discussion on the topic "Consciousness: Beyond the Individual?" in Swedenborg Hall, London (2013)
Public talk at Cambridge Festival of Ideas (2012): "Why I dreamed me: How brain science explains our peculiar experience of the self in dreams"