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Peripersonal space: a multisensory interface for body-object interactions

Brozzoli, C., Makin, T. R., Cardinali, L., Holmes, N. P. and Farne, A. (2011) Peripersonal space: a multisensory interface for body-object interactions. In: Murray, M. M. and Wallace, M. T. (eds.) The neural bases of multisensory processes. Frontiers in Neuroscience. Taylor & Francis, London, pp. 449-466. ISBN 978143981214

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Research in the last four decades has brought a considerable advance in our understanding of how the brain synthesizes information arising from different sensory modalities. Indeed, many cortical and subcortical areas, beyond those traditionally considered to be ‘associative,’ have been shown to be involved in multisensory interaction and integration (Ghazanfar and Schroeder 2006). Visuo-tactile interaction is of particular interest, because of the prominent role played by vision in guiding our actions and anticipating their tactile consequences in everyday life. In this chapter, we focus on the functional role that visuo-tactile processing may play in driving two types of body-object interactions: avoidance and approach. We will first review some basic features of visuo-tactile interactions, as revealed by electrophysiological studies in monkeys. These will prove to be relevant for interpreting the subsequent evidence arising from human studies. A crucial point that will be stressed is that these visuo-tactile mechanisms have not only sensory, but also motor-related activity that qualifies them as multisensory-motor interfaces. Evidence will then be presented for the existence of functionally homologous processing in the human brain, both from neuropsychological research in brain-damaged patients and in healthy participants. The final part of the chapter will focus on some recent studies in humans showing that the human motor system is provided with a multisensory interface that allows for continuous monitoring of the space near the body (i.e., peripersonal space). We further demonstrate that multisensory processing can be modulated on-line as a consequence of interacting with objects. This indicates that, far from being passive, the monitoring of peripersonal space is an active process subserving actions between our body and objects located in the space around us.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Perception and Action
ID Code:23376
Uncontrolled Keywords:Peripersonal space, neglect, extinction, hand, body, psychology, neuroscience
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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