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The distorted body: The perception of the relative proportions of the body is preserved in Parkinson’s disease

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
Article number3
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>20/04/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Psychonomic Bulletin and Review
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date20/04/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Given humans’ ubiquitous visual experience of their own body, one reasonable assumption is that one’s perceptions of the lengths of their body parts should be accurate. However, recent research has shown that large systematic distortions of the length of body parts are present in healthy younger adults. These distortions appear to be linked to tactile sensitivity such that individuals overestimate the length of body parts of low tactile sensitivity to a greater extent than body parts of high tactile sensitivity. There are certain conditions featuring reduced tactile sensitivity, such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) and healthy older ageing. However, the effect of these circumstances on individuals’ perceptions of the lengths of their body parts remains unknown. In this study, participants visually estimated the length of their body parts using their hand as a metric. We show that despite the reductions in tactile sensitivity, and potential alterations in the cortical presentation of body parts that may occur in PD and healthy older ageing, individuals with mild-moderate PD and older adults of comparable age experience body size distortions comparable to healthy younger controls. These findings demonstrate that the ability to perceive the length of one’s body parts is well preserved in mild-moderate PD.