Topographic representation of the human body in the occipitotemporal cortex

Neuron. 2010 Nov 4;68(3):586-600. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.09.032.


Large-scale topographic representations of the body have long been established in the somatosensory and motor cortices. Using functional imaging, we identified a topographically organized body part map within the occipitotemporal cortex (OTC), with distinct clusters of voxels showing clear preference for different visually presented body parts. This representation was consistent both across hemispheres and participants. Using converging methods, the preference for specific body parts was demonstrated to be robust and did not merely reflect shape differences between the categories. Finally, execution of (unseen) movements with different body parts resulted in a limited topographic representation of the limbs and trunk, which partially overlapped with the visual body part map. This motor-driven activation in the OTC could not be explained solely by visual or motor imagery of the body parts. This suggests that visual and motor-related information converge within the OTC in a body part specific manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology


  • Oxygen