Evidence for multiple, distinct representations of the human body

J Cogn Neurosci. 2005 Apr;17(4):543-53. doi: 10.1162/0898929053467587.


Previous data from single-case and small group studies have suggested distinctions among structural, conceptual, and online sensorimotor representations of the human body. We developed a battery of tasks to further examine the prevalence and anatomic substrates of these body representations. The battery was administered to 70 stroke patients. Fifty-one percent of the patients were impaired relative to controls on at least one body representation measure. Further, principal components analysis of the patient data as well as direct comparisons of patient and control performance suggested a triple dissociation between measures of the 3 putative body representations. Consistent with previous distinctions between the "what" and "how" pathways, lesions of the left temporal lobe were most consistently associated with impaired performance on tasks assessing knowledge of the shape or lexical-semantic information about the body, whereas lesions of the dorsolateral frontal and parietal regions resulted in impaired performance on tasks requiring on-line coding of body posture.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Image*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Human Body*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Stroke / physiopathology*