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J Neurosci. 2012 Oct 17;32(42):14573-82. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2660-12.2012.

That's near my hand! Parietal and premotor coding of hand-centered space contributes to localization and self-attribution of the hand.

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Brain, Body, and Self Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, SE-17177 Stockholm, Sweden.


The ability to identify and localize our own limbs is crucial for survival. Indeed, the majority of our interactions with objects occur within the space surrounding the hands. In non-human primates, neurons in the posterior parietal and premotor cortices dynamically represent the space near the upper limbs in hand-centered coordinates. Neuronal populations selective for the space near the hand also exist in humans. It is unclear whether these remap the peri-hand representation as the arm is moved in space. Furthermore, no combined neuronal and behavioral data are available about the possible involvement of peri-hand neurons in the perception of the upper limbs in any species. We used fMRI adaptation to demonstrate dynamic hand-centered encoding of space by reporting response suppression in human premotor and posterior parietal cortices to repeated presentations of an object near the hand for different arm postures. Furthermore, we show that such spatial representation is related to changes in body perception, being remapped onto a prosthetic hand if perceived as one's own during an illusion. Interestingly, our results further suggest that peri-hand space remapping in the premotor cortex is most tightly linked to the subjective feeling of ownership of the seen limb, whereas remapping in the posterior parietal cortex closely reflects changes in the position sense of the arm. These findings identify the neural bases for dynamic hand-centered encoding of peripersonal space in humans and provide hitherto missing evidence for the link between the peri-hand representation of space and the perceived self-attribution and position of the upper limb.

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