Part-based representations of the body in early childhood:evidence from perceived distortions of tactile space across limb boundaries

Frances Knight, Dorothy Cowie, Andrew Bremner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Studies show that touch in adults is referenced to a representation of the body that is structured topologically according to body
parts; the perceived distance between two stimuli crossing over a body part boundary is elongated relative to the perceived
distance between two stimuli presented within one body part category. Here we investigate this influence of body parts on tactile
space perception in children of 5, 6 and 7 years of age. We presented children with pairs of tactile stimuli on the left hand/arm,
either within the hand, within the forearm, or over the wrist. With their eyes closed children were asked to adjust the distance
between the thumb and forefinger of their right hand to represent the felt distance between the two tactile stimuli. Like adults,
the children perceived the distance between two stimuli that cross the body part boundary to be further apart than those that were
presented within the hand or arm. They also perceive tactile distance to be greater on the hand than the arm which is the first
observation of Weber’s illusion in young children. We propose that a topological mode of body representation is particularly
advantageous during early life given that body part categories remain constant while the metric proportions of the body change
substantially as the child grows.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Science
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2016

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Part-based representations of the body in early childhood:evidence from perceived distortions of tactile space across limb boundaries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this