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Journal Article

Proprioceptive errors in the localization of hand landmarks: What can be learnt about the hand metric representation?


Peviani,  Valeria Carmen
Department of Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;
Department of Brain and Behavioural Sciences, University of Pavia;

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Peviani, V. C., & Bottini, G. (2020). Proprioceptive errors in the localization of hand landmarks: What can be learnt about the hand metric representation? PLoS One, 15(7): e0236416. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0236416.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-2FAE-2
Proprioception acquires a crucial role in estimating the configuration of our body segments in space when visual information is not available. Proprioceptive accuracy is assessed by asking participants to match the perceived position of an unseen body landmark through reaching movements. This task was also adopted to study the perceived hand structure by computing the relative distances between averaged proprioceptive judgments (hand Localization Task). However, the pattern of proprioceptive errors leading to the misperceived hand structure is unexplored. Here, we aimed to characterize this pattern across different hand landmarks, having different anatomo-physiological properties and cortical representations. Furthermore, we sought to describe the error consistency and its stability over time. To this purpose, we analyzed the proprioceptive errors of 43 healthy participants during the hand Localization Task. We found larger but more consistent errors for the fingertips compared to the knuckles, possibly due to poorer proprioceptive signal, compensated by other sources of spatial information. Furthermore, we found a shift (overlap effect) and a temporal drift of the hand perceived position towards the shoulder of origin, which was consistent within and between subjects. The overlap effect had a greater influence on lateral compared to medial landmarks, leading to the hand width overestimation. Our results are compatible with domain-general and body-specific spatial biases affecting the proprioceptive localization of the hand landmarks, thus the apparent hand structure misperception.