Same action in different spatial locations induces selective modulation of body metric representation
Recent studies have hypothesised that the stereotypical representation of the body may reflect some functional aspects of routine actions that are performed in specific peripersonal domains. For example, the lower and upper limbs tend to ‘act’ in different peripersonal spaces and perform different functions. The present study aims to directly investigate the relationship between body representation and the spatial context where actions are performed. By means of a modified version of the Body Image Task we investigated body representation before and after a sorting task training in two groups of participants who were asked to carry out the same task/actions in two different spaces: on a table or on the floor, while sitting on a chair. Findings showed that a significant recalibration of the perceived upper arms’ length occurred when participants were asked to perform a motor task on the floor. These results seem to suggest that the modulation of the body representation reflects an increase action capabilities driven by the contribution of motor training modulates and, importantly, the location in which the action occurs. Furthermore, the modulation was not limited to the body part actively involved in the action (the arms), it extended to other upper body parts (the torso) to maintain, we propose, a functionally coherent representation of the upper body.