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Asymmetrical Body Perception: A Possible Role for Neural Body Representations

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Linkenauger, S., Witt, J., Bakdash, J., Stefanucci, J., & Proffitt, D. (2009). Asymmetrical Body Perception: A Possible Role for Neural Body Representations. Psychological Science, 20(11), 1373-1380. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02447.x.

Perception of one's body is related not only to the physical appearance of the body, but also to the neural representation of the body. The brain contains many body maps that systematically differ between right- and left-handed people. In general, the cortical representations of the right arm and right hand tend to be of greater area in the left hemisphere than in the right hemisphere for right-handed people, whereas these cortical representations tend to be symmetrical across hemispheres for left-handers. We took advantage of these naturally occurring differences, and examined perceived arm length in right- and left-handed people. When looking at each arm and hand individually, right-handed participants perceived their right arms and right hands to be longer than their left arms and left hands, whereas left-handed participants perceived both arms accurately. These experiments reveal a possible relationship between implicit body maps in the brain and conscious perception of the body.