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Mem Cognit. 2005 Jun;33(4):696-709.

Bodies and their parts.

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Bryant University, Smithfield, Rhode Island, USA.


How do we think about the space of bodies? Several accounts of mental representations of bodies were addressed in body part verification tasks. An imagery account predicts shorter times to larger parts (e.g., back < hand). A part distinctiveness account predicts shorter times to more discontinuous parts (e.g., arm < chest). Apart significance account predicts shorter times to parts that are perceptually distinct and functionally important (e.g., head < back). Because distinctiveness and significance are correlated, the latter two accounts are difficult to distinguish. Both name-body and body-body comparisons were investigated in four experiments. In all, larger parts were verified more slowly than smaller ones, eliminating the imagery/size account. Despite the correlation between distinctiveness and significance, the data suggest that when comparisons are perceptual (body-body), part distinctiveness is the best predictor, and when explicit or implicit naming is involved, part significance is the best predictor. Naming seems to activate the functional aspects of bodies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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