Objects exhibit body model like shape distortions

Aurelie Saulton, Trevor J. Dodds, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, Stephan de la Rosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate knowledge about size and shape of the body derived from somatosensation is important to locate one’s own body in space. The internal representation of these body metrics (body model) has been assessed by contrasting the distortions of participants’ body estimates across two types of tasks (localization task vs. template matching task). Here, we examined to which extent this contrast is linked to the human body. We compared participants’ shape estimates of their own hand and non-corporeal objects (rake, post-it pad, CD-box) between a localization task and a template matching task. While most items were perceived accurately in the visual template matching task, they appeared to be distorted in the localization task. All items’ distortions were characterized by larger length underestimation compared to width. This pattern of distortion was maintained across orientation for the rake item only, suggesting that the biases measured on the rake were bound to an item-centric reference frame. This was previously assumed to be the case only for the hand. Although similar results can be found between non-corporeal items and the hand, the hand appears significantly more distorted than other items in the localization task. Therefore, we conclude that the magnitude of the distortions measured in the localization task is specific to the hand. Our results are in line with the idea that the localization task for the hand measures contributions of both an implicit body model that is not utilized in landmark localization with objects and other factors that are common to objects and the hand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1471-1479
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 22

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Body representation
  • Body schema
  • Position sense
  • Somatosensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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