In the hand laterality task participants judge the handedness of visually presented stimuli – images of hands shown in a variety of postures and views - and indicate whether they perceive a right or left hand. The task engages kinaesthetic and sensorimotor processes and is considered a standard example of motor imagery. However, in this study we find that while motor imagery holds across egocentric views of the stimuli (where the hands are likely to be one's own), it does not appear to hold across allocentric views (where the hands are likely to be another person's). First, we find that psychophysical sensitivity, d', is clearly demarcated between egocentric and allocentric views, being high for the former and low for the latter. Secondly, using mixed effects methods to analyse the chronometric data, we find high positive correlation between response times across egocentric views, suggesting a common use of motor imagery across these views. Correlations are, however, considerably lower between egocentric and allocentric views, suggesting a switch from motor imagery across these perspectives. We relate these findings to research showing that the extrastriate body area discriminates egocentric (‘self’) and allocentric (‘other’) views of the human body and of body parts, including hands.
© 2011 Brady et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.