The influence of hands posture on mental rotation of hands and feet

Exp Brain Res. 2007 Oct;183(1):1-7. doi: 10.1007/s00221-007-1020-2. Epub 2007 Jul 21.


Behavioural and functional neuroanatomy studies demonstrate that mental rotation of body parts is carried out through a sort of inner motor simulation. Here we examined whether changes of hands posture influence the mental rotation of hands and feet. Twenty healthy subjects were asked to verbally judge the laterality of hands and feet pictures in two different postural conditions. In one condition, subjects kept hands on their knees in anatomical position; in the other, their hands were kept in an unusual posture with intertwined fingers, behind the back. Results show that mental rotation of hands but not of feet was influenced by changes in hands posture. Indeed, while mental rotation of hands was faster in the front than in the back hands position, no similar effect was found when mentally rotating feet. Thus, sensory-motor and postural information coming from the body may influence mental rotation of body parts according to specific, somatotopic rules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Foot*
  • Hand*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Rotation*