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A geometric model of defensive peripersonal space

Bufacchi, RJ; Liang, M; Griffin, LD; Iannetti, GD; (2016) A geometric model of defensive peripersonal space. Journal of Neurophysiology , 115 (1) pp. 218-225. 10.1152/jn.00691.2015. Green open access

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Abstract

Potentially harmful stimuli occurring within the defensive peripersonal space (DPPS), a protective area surrounding the body, elicit stronger defensive reactions. The spatial features of the DPPS are poorly defined and limited to descriptive estimates of its extent along a single dimension. Here we postulated a family of geometric models of the DPPS, to address two important questions with respect to its spatial features: What is its fine-grained topography? How does the nervous system represent the body area to be defended? As a measure of the DPPS, we used the strength of the defensive blink reflex elicited by electrical stimulation of the hand (hand-blink reflex, HBR), which is reliably modulated by the position of the stimulated hand in egocentric coordinates. We tested the goodness of fit of the postulated models to HBR data from six experiments in which we systematically explored the HBR modulation by hand position in both head-centered and body-centered coordinates. The best-fitting model indicated that 1) the nervous system's representation of the body area defended by the HBR can be approximated by a half-ellipsoid centered on the face and 2) the DPPS extending from this area has the shape of a bubble elongated along the vertical axis. Finally, the empirical observation that the HBR is modulated by hand position in head-centered coordinates indicates that the DPPS is anchored to the face. The modeling approach described in this article can be generalized to describe the spatial modulation of any defensive response.

Type: Article
Title: A geometric model of defensive peripersonal space
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1152/jn.00691.2015
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00691.2015
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY 3.0: © the American Physiological Society.
Keywords: blink reflex, body, defense, modeling, personal space
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Neuro, Physiology and Pharmacology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1474909
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