Visual-somatosensory interactions in mental representations of the body and the face

Beck, Brianna (2015) Visual-somatosensory interactions in mental representations of the body and the face, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in International phd program in cognitive neuroscience, 27 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6848.
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The body is represented in the brain at levels that incorporate multisensory information. This thesis focused on interactions between vision and cutaneous sensations (i.e., touch and pain). Experiment 1 revealed that there are partially dissociable pathways for visual enhancement of touch (VET) depending upon whether one sees one’s own body or the body of another person. This indicates that VET, a seeming low-level effect on spatial tactile acuity, is actually sensitive to body identity. Experiments 2-4 explored the effect of viewing one’s own body on pain perception. They demonstrated that viewing the body biases pain intensity judgments irrespective of actual stimulus intensity, and, more importantly, reduces the discriminative capacities of the nociceptive pathway encoding noxious stimulus intensity. The latter effect only occurs if the pain-inducing event itself is not visible, suggesting that viewing the body alone and viewing a stimulus event on the body have distinct effects on cutaneous sensations. Experiment 5 replicated an enhancement of visual remapping of touch (VRT) when viewing fearful human faces being touched, and further demonstrated that VRT does not occur for observed touch on non-human faces, even fearful ones. This suggests that the facial expressions of non-human animals may not be simulated within the somatosensory system of the human observer in the same way that the facial expressions of other humans are. Finally, Experiment 6 examined the enfacement illusion, in which synchronous visuo-tactile inputs cause another’s face to be assimilated into the mental self-face representation. The strength of enfacement was not affected by the other’s facial expression, supporting an asymmetric relationship between processing of facial identity and facial expressions. Together, these studies indicate that multisensory representations of the body in the brain link low-level perceptual processes with the perception of emotional cues and body/face identity, and interact in complex ways depending upon contextual factors.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Beck, Brianna
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze umanistiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
anger, body, emotion, enfacement, expressions, extrastriate body area (EBA), face, fear, interpersonal, intraparietal sulcus, multisensory, nociception, pain, somatosensory, touch, visual
Data di discussione
12 Giugno 2015

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