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Cogn Neuropsychol. 2005 May;22(3):408-18. doi: 10.1080/02643290442000112.

The role played by tool-use and tool-length on the Plastic Elongation of peri-hand space: a single case study.

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Universita degli Studi di Bologna and Centro Neuroscienze Cognitive, Cesena, Italy.


Consistent with neurophysiological findings showing expansion of the visual RF of visuo-tactile neurons along the rake used by monkeys to retrieve out-of-hand-reach objects (Iriki, Tanaka, & Iwamura, 1996), we have previously shown that also in humans the use of a tool can increase the spatial extent of the representation of peri-hand space, as revealed by an increase in the severity of cross-modal extinction after tool use (Farne & Ladavas, 2000). Here we further explored the characteristics of such a transient elongation of the multisensory peri-hand space representation in a patient with visual-tactile extinction. By investigating the variation of cross-modal extinction following different types of tool-related experience, we found that passive exposure to the tool is not sufficient per se to induce peri-hand space extension, which instead requires that the tool is used. This increase of peri-hand extension might be related to the physical length of the tool.

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