Multimodal Contributions to Body Representation

in Multisensory Research
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Our body is a unique entity by which we interact with the external world. Consequently, the way we represent our body has profound implications in the way we process and locate sensations and in turn perform appropriate actions. The body can be the subject, but also the object of our experience, providing information from sensations on the body surface and viscera, but also knowledge of the body as a physical object. However, the extent to which different senses contribute to constructing the rich and unified body representations we all experience remains unclear. In this review, we aim to bring together recent research showing important roles for several different sensory modalities in constructing body representations. At the same time, we hope to generate new ideas of how and at which level the senses contribute to generate the different levels of body representations and how they interact. We will present an overview of some of the most recent neuropsychological evidence about multisensory control of pain, and the way that visual, auditory, vestibular and tactile systems contribute to the creation of coherent representations of the body. We will focus particularly on some of the topics discussed in the symposium on Multimodal Contributions to Body Representation held on the 15th International Multisensory Research Forum (2015, Pisa, Italy).

Multimodal Contributions to Body Representation

in Multisensory Research



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    Scaled illustrations of individuals’ perceptions of their body proportions (right) and their actual body proportions (left).

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    Effect of vestibular stimulation (GVS) on perspective-taking. (a) An ambiguous letter (b, d, p, or q) was traced by the experimenter on the participant’s forehead. The task was to name the letter. (b) GVS (right-anodal/left-cathodal) or sham stimulation was applied on different blocks. (c) Vestibular stimulation increased the probability that ambiguous letters were interpreted with an internal first-person perspective. Adapted with permission from Ferrè et al., 2014. This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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    Manipulating sound-feedback and sensing gait and emotion (GSR: Galvanic Skin Response; FSR: Force Sensitive Resistor). Short adaptation periods to altered walking sounds led to lower perceived body weight, to the adoption of gait patterns typical of lighter bodies and to an enhanced emotional state. Tajadura-Jiménez et al., 2015c, © 2015 ACM, Inc. Reprinted by permission. This figure is published in colour in the online version.


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