Is the body in the eye of the beholder? Visual processing of bodies in individuals with anomalous anatomical sensory and motor features


Neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies suggest distinct body representations involved in coding one’s and others’ body. Other influential theories, however, instead posit a unique model behind coding multisensory information about one’s own body and visual information about others. An efficient way to further investigate this issue can be through testing individuals with anomalous anatomical and sensorimotor bodily features. In these people, the representation of their own body is held to be different with respect to the average population due to the peculiar properties of their body, and any experimental finding supposedly mediated by this representation should reflect such difference. We reviewed the most relevant studies reporting individuals with anomalous anatomical and sensorimotor bodily features engaged in (a) handedness task, (b) visual processing of biological motion and (c) visual processing of body shape. The performance in all three kinds of cognitive processes is affected by anomalous body features of the tested populations. However, the reviewed data are also in favor of a body model extrapolated by visual experience of others which mediates processing of biological stimuli and which operates in parallel, or as an alternative, to the representation of one’s own body. In light of these results, pure visual and pure embodied accounts behind visual processing of biological stimuli should be reconsidered.

Neuropsychologia. 48(3), 689-702
Corrado Corradi˗Dell'Acqua
Corrado Corradi˗Dell'Acqua
Neuroscientist - Cognitive Psychologist - Data Scientist