Body perception, awareness, and illusions

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci. 2014 Sep;5(5):551-560. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1309. Epub 2014 Aug 13.


Perceiving a body is a phenomenal experience completely different from experiencing a body as one's own body. Visual presentation of bodies or body parts recruits several occipitotemporal regions in the brain. Are these activations sufficient in order to change the phenomenal status of a body in one's own body? In this paper, I will review consolidated experimental evidence showing that the feeling of owning a body is not limited to the vision of a body, rather it is the result of a complex interaction between interoception, exteroception, and pre-existing body templates. To illustrate this complex interplay, I will take advantage of the so-called bodily illusions, referring to controlled illusory generation of unusual bodily feeling. These feelings include having a supernumerary limb, or lacking an arm, or feeling like you do not really have a body, or feeling that you do not really control a certain part of your body, or that your body is not really yours. In the last 15 years more than 150 empirical studies on body illusions have been published (

Source: Pubmed, June 2014). These studies, using different technologies, are largely responsible for contributed our current understanding of bodily self-consciousness. WIREs Cogn Sci 2014, 5:551-560. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1309 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

Conflict of interest: The author has declared no conflicts of interest for this article.