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    Somatosensory perception of the hands and feet

    Manser-Smith, Kelda (2021) Somatosensory perception of the hands and feet. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Somatosensory perception of the body has been shown to be systematically biased. This thesis aims to contribute to knowledge of our somatosensory perception of our bodies, and how these perceptions are systematically distorted. In particular I investigated similarities and differences between the hands and feet. My results showed that a number of different somatosensory processes are systematically biased across both the hands and feet, for example tactile localisation of the digits, localisation across the palm and dorsum, and distance perception. Biases were mostly consistent in their patterns across the hands and feet. Differences found between the hairy and glabrous skin surfaces on each body part were reflected in the other body part, as were individual differences in individuals’ response patterns. This suggests that despite the differences in modern use and physical structure of the hands and feet, deep functional connections remain between the somatosensory representations of these body parts, from their common genetic development. I suggest that these findings provide evidence for a common, abstracted representation of the hands and feet, such as has been previously proposed by other researchers. Finally, I showed that there remain some differences in how somatosensory information is processed by the fingers and toes – tactile stimuli applied to the fingers more easily distracts from identifying touches to the toes than vice versa, and representations of the fingers contain spatial information that the toes do not. These findings show that despite the connectedness of somatosensory representations of the hands and feet, differences in use can induce plasticity in their representations.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2021 09:41
    Last Modified: 23 Sep 2021 11:27


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