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    An implicit body representation underlying human position sense

    Longo, Matthew R. and Haggard, P. (2010) An implicit body representation underlying human position sense. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 (26), pp. 11727-11732. ISSN 0027-8424.

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    Knowing the body’s location in external space is a fundamental perceptual task. Perceiving the location of body parts through proprioception requires that information about the angles of each joint (i.e., body posture) be combined with information about the size and shape of the body segments between joints. Although information about body posture is specified by on-line afferent signals, no sensory signals are directly informative about body size and shape. Thus, human position sense must refer to a stored body model of the body’s metric properties, such as body part size and shape. The need for such a model has long been recognized; however, the properties of this model have never been systematically investigated.We developed a technique to isolate and measure this body model. Participants judged the location in external space of 10 landmarks on the hand. By analyzing the internal configuration of the locations of these points, we produced implicit maps of the mental representation of hand size and shape. We show that this part of the body model is massively distorted, in a reliable and characteristic fashion, featuring shortened fingers and broadened hands. Intriguingly, these distortions appear to retain several characteristics of primary somatosensory representations, such as the Penfield homunculus.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Matthew Longo
    Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2012 09:26
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 16:59


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