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Know Thyself: Behavioral Evidence for a Structural Representation of the Human Body

Rusconi, E; Gonzaga, M; Adriani, M; Braun, C; Haggard, P; (2009) Know Thyself: Behavioral Evidence for a Structural Representation of the Human Body. PLOS ONE , 4 (5) , Article e5418. 10.1371/journal.pone.0005418. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Representing one's own body is often viewed as a basic form of self-awareness. However, little is known about structural representations of the body in the brain.Methods and Findings: We developed an inter-manual version of the classical "in-between'' finger gnosis task: participants judged whether the number of untouched fingers between two touched fingers was the same on both hands, or different. We thereby dissociated structural knowledge about fingers, specifying their order and relative position within a hand, from tactile sensory codes. Judgments following stimulation on homologous fingers were consistently more accurate than trials with no or partial homology. Further experiments showed that structural representations are more enduring than purely sensory codes, are used even when number of fingers is irrelevant to the task, and moreover involve an allocentric representation of finger order, independent of hand posture.Conclusions: Our results suggest the existence of an allocentric representation of body structure at higher stages of the somatosensory processing pathway, in addition to primary sensory representation.

Type: Article
Title: Know Thyself: Behavioral Evidence for a Structural Representation of the Human Body
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005418
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005418
Language: English
Additional information: © 2009 Rusconi et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. ER was supported by a Research Fellowship from the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (University of Trento) and by European Commission (MERG-CT-2007-046511). PH was supported by a Research Fellowship from Leverhulme Trust and a BBSRC project grant. Support for this research was also provided in part by the government of the Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Italy, the private foundation Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Trento e Rovereto, and the University of Trento, Italy. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Keywords: SOMATOSENSORY CORTEX, TACTILE STIMULI, PARIETAL CORTEX, PARTS, AUTOTOPAGNOSIA, AGNOSIA, MEMORY, SIZE
UCL classification: UCL
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 Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/177673
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