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A 2.5-D representation of the human hand

Longo, Matthew R. and Haggard, P. (2012) A 2.5-D representation of the human hand. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 38 (1), pp. 9-13. ISSN 0096-1523.

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Primary somatosensory maps in the brain represent the body as a discontinuous, fragmented set of 2-D skin regions. We nevertheless experience our body as a coherent 3-D volumetric object. The links between these different aspects of body representation, however, remain poorly understood. Perceiving the body’s location in external space requires that immediate afferent signals from the periphery be combined with stored representations of body size and shape. At least for the back of the hand, this body representation is massively distorted, in a highly stereotyped manner. Here we test whether a common pattern of distortions applies to the entire hand as a 3-D object, or whether each 2-D skin surface has its own characteristic pattern of distortion. Participants judged the location in external space of landmark points on the dorsal and palmar surfaces of the hand. By analyzing the internal configuration of judgments, we produced implicit maps of each skin surface. Qualitatively similar distortions were observed in both cases. The distortions were correlated across participants, suggesting that the two surfaces are bound into a common underlying representation. The magnitude of distortion, however, was substantially smaller on the palmar surface, suggesting that this binding is incomplete. The implicit representation of the human hand may be a hybrid, intermediate between a 2-D representation of individual skin surfaces and a 3-D representation of the hand as a volumetric object.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: 'This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.'
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Matthew Longo
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2012 11:34
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33

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