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Journal Article

Exploring the interaction between handedness and body parts ownership by means of the Implicit Association Test


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

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Crivelli, D., Peviani, V. C., Salvato, G., & Bottini, G. (2021). Exploring the interaction between handedness and body parts ownership by means of the Implicit Association Test. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 15: 681904. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2021.681904.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-00D9-2
The experience of owning a body is built upon the integration of exteroceptive, interoceptive, and proprioceptive signals. Recently, it has been suggested that motor signals could be particularly important in producing the feeling of body part ownership. One thus may hypothesize that the strength of this feeling may not be spatially uniform; rather, it could vary as a function of the degree by which different body parts are involved in motor behavior. Given that our dominant hand plays a leading role in our motor behavior, we hypothesized that it could be more strongly associated with one’s self compared to its non-dominant counterpart. To explore whether this possible asymmetry manifests as a stronger implicit association of the right hand (vs left hand) with the self, we administered the Implicit Association Test to a group of 70 healthy individuals. To control whether this asymmetric association is human-body specific, we further tested whether a similar asymmetry characterizes the association between a right (vs left) animal body part with the concept of self, in an independent sample of subjects (N = 70, 140 subjects total). Our results revealed a linear relationship between the magnitude of the implicit association between the right hand with the self and the subject’s handedness. In detail, the strength of this association increased as a function of hand preference. Critically, the handedness score did not predict the association of the right-animal body part with the self. These findings suggest that, in healthy individuals, the dominant and non-dominant hands are differently perceived at an implicit level as belonging to the self. We argue that such asymmetry may stem from the different roles that the two hands play in our adaptive motor behavior.