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Department of Cognitive Science

Body representations: Perception and Action

Processing of body information is central to the perception of ourselves and others and to enable successful interaction within our environment. Our basic research aim is to shed light on the role of visual information in body perception. For example, what role does looking at a hand have in body perception and how does it integrate with information from other senses such as touch.  We study how these processes inform central body representations and distinctions between one’s own body and actions versus other objects, bodies or actions in the environment.

For our research we employ human brain imaging, virtual reality, body movement capture, tactile, visual and multisensory stimuli and artificial hands.

We investigate the processing of tactile, visual and multisensory information.

Tactile stimuli and fMRI compatible Piezo Tactile Stimulator - Dancer Design Visual stimuli Multisensory stimuli - Tactors and LEDs

We use fMRI to study neural visual and multisensory body representations (Schmalzl et al. 2012).

Localizer activation maps of face and body selective clusters

We employ virtual reality to study the processing of body information during and for action.

Our virtual reality setup: Glove-based and magnetic motion capture systems CyberGlove and Fastrak and a virtual 3D hand

We employ the Rubber Hand Illusion paradigm to investigate the mechanisms and effects of distinct representations for one’s own and other bodies.


Schmalzl, L., Zopf, R., & Williams, M. (2012). From head to toe: Evidence for response selectivity to whole individuals in human extrastriate cortex. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, 108.

Zopf, R., Truong, S., Finkbeiner, M., Friedman, J., & Williams, M.A. (2011). Viewing and feeling touch modulates hand position for reaching. Neuropsychologia, 49(5), 1287-1293.

Zopf, R., Harris, J.A., & Williams, M.A. (2011). The influence of body-ownership cues on tactile sensitivity. Cognitive Neuroscience, 2(3-4), 147-154.

Zopf, R., Savage, G., & Williams, M. (2010). Crossmodal congruency measures of lateral distance effects on the rubber hand illusion. Neuropsychologia, 48, 713-725.