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Full Access Representing the body in the brain: Effects of body distortion on somatosensory processing

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Representing the body in the brain: Effects of body distortion on somatosensory processing

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How the body is represented in the brain has been an important topic of investigation for over a hundred years, with neurological, philosophical and physiological implications. Tactile processing, at even the lowest level, including localization, detection thresholds and two-point discrimination thresholds, turns out to depend on factors other than the cutaneous receptors. How these properties are affected and by what, can give insight into how the body is represented in the brain. Distortions in localization related to gaze direction suggest spatial coding in multiple reference frames. Distortions in detection and two-point discrimination thresholds related to alteration in perceived body shape indicate distortions in the relative size of different parts of the representation — perhaps related to receptive field changes in a cortical map. I will review several recent studies that together demonstrate that the body’s representation in the brain can be matched to various task requirements and that can be dynamically updated to respond to changes in posture and perceived body dimensions.

Affiliations: 1: 1York University, Canada; 2: 2Psychology, York University, Canada; 3: 3Psychology, Oxford University, UK

How the body is represented in the brain has been an important topic of investigation for over a hundred years, with neurological, philosophical and physiological implications. Tactile processing, at even the lowest level, including localization, detection thresholds and two-point discrimination thresholds, turns out to depend on factors other than the cutaneous receptors. How these properties are affected and by what, can give insight into how the body is represented in the brain. Distortions in localization related to gaze direction suggest spatial coding in multiple reference frames. Distortions in detection and two-point discrimination thresholds related to alteration in perceived body shape indicate distortions in the relative size of different parts of the representation — perhaps related to receptive field changes in a cortical map. I will review several recent studies that together demonstrate that the body’s representation in the brain can be matched to various task requirements and that can be dynamically updated to respond to changes in posture and perceived body dimensions.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134808-000s0016
2013-05-16
2016-12-11

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