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Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 22;7:43019. doi: 10.1038/srep43019.

Finger posture modulates structural body representations.

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Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, London, United Kingdom.


Patients with lesions of the left posterior parietal cortex commonly fail in identifying their fingers, a condition known as finger agnosia, yet are relatively unimpaired in sensation and skilled action. Such dissociations have traditionally been interpreted as evidence that structural body representations (BSR), such as the body structural description, are distinct from sensorimotor representations, such as the body schema. We investigated whether performance on tasks commonly used to assess finger agnosia is modulated by changes in hand posture. We used the 'in between' test in which participants estimate the number of unstimulated fingers between two touched fingers or a localization task in which participants judge which two fingers were stimulated. Across blocks, the fingers were placed in three levels of splay. Judged finger numerosity was analysed, in Exp. 1 by direct report and in Exp. 2 as the actual number of fingers between the fingers named. In both experiments, judgments were greater when non-adjacent stimulated fingers were positioned far apart compared to when they were close together or touching, whereas judgements were unaltered when adjacent fingers were stimulated. This demonstrates that BSRs are not fixed, but are modulated by the real-time physical distances between body parts.

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