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Distorted body representations are robust to differences in experimental instructions

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number4
Volume79
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)1204-1216
Publication statusPublished
Early online date15/02/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Several recent reports have shown that even healthy adults maintain highly distorted representations of the size and shape of their body. These distortions have been shown to be highly consistent across different study designs and dependent measures. However, previous studies have found that visual judgments of size can be modulated by the experimental instructions used, for example, by asking for judgments of the participant's subjective experience of stimulus size (i.e., apparent instructions) versus judgments of actual stimulus properties (i.e., objective instructions). Previous studies investigating internal body representations have relied exclusively on 'apparent' instructions. Here, we investigated whether apparent versus objective instructions modulate findings of distorted body representations underlying position sense (Exp. 1), tactile distance perception (Exp. 2), as well as the conscious body image (Exp. 3). Our results replicate the characteristic distortions previously reported for each of these tasks and further show that these distortions are not affected by instruction type (i.e., apparent vs. objective). These results show that the distortions measured with these paradigms are robust to differences in instructions and do not reflect a dissociation between perception and belief.