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Neuropsychologia. 2012 Jan;50(1):181-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.11.016. Epub 2011 Nov 25.

Body knowledge in brain-damaged children: a double-dissociation in self and other's body processing.

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Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Viale Berti Pichat, 40127 Bologna, Italy.


Bodies are important element for self-recognition. In this respect, in adults it has been recently shown a self vs other advantage when small parts of the subjects' body are visible. This advantage is lost following a right brain lesion underlying a role of the right hemisphere in self body-parts processing. In order to investigate the bodily-self processing in children and the development of its neuronal bases, 57 typically developing healthy subjects and 17 subjects with unilateral brain damage (5 right and 12 left sided), aged 4-17 years, were submitted to a matching-to-sample task. In this task, three stimuli vertically aligned were simultaneously presented at the centre of the computer screen. Subjects were required which of two stimuli (the upper or the lower one) matched the central target stimulus, half stimuli representing self and half stimuli representing other people's body-parts and face-parts. The results showed that corporeal self recognition is present since at least 4 years of age and that self and others' body parts processing are different and sustained by separate cerebral substrates. Indeed, a double dissociation was found: right brain damaged patients were impaired in self but not in other people's body parts, showing a self-disadvantage, whereas left brain damaged patients were impaired in others' but not in self body parts processing. Finally, since the double dissociation self/other was found for body-parts but not for face parts, the corporal self seems to be dissociated for body and face-parts. This opens the possibility of independent and lateralized functional modules for the processing of self and other body parts during development.

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