The bodily self: Insights from clinical and experimental research

Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2017 Jun;60(3):198-207. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2016 Jun 16.


This review article summarizes neuropsychological descriptions of abnormal body representations in brain-damaged patients and recent neuroscientific investigations of their sensorimotor underpinnings in healthy participants. The first part of the article describes unilateral disorders of the bodily self, such as asomatognosia, feelings of amputation, supernumerary phantom limbs and somatoparaphrenia, as well as descriptions of non-lateralized disorders of the bodily self, including Alice in Wonderland syndrome and autoscopic hallucinations. Because the sensorimotor mechanisms of these disorders are unclear, we focus on clinical descriptions and insist on the importance of reporting clinical cases to better understand the full range of bodily disorders encountered in neurological diseases. The second part of the article presents the advantages of merging neuroscientific approaches of the bodily self with immersive virtual reality, robotics and neuroprosthetics to foster the understanding of the multisensory, motor and neural mechanisms of bodily representations.

Keywords: Asomatognosia; Bodily self; Delusions; Illusions; Virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agnosia / etiology*
  • Alice in Wonderland Syndrome / etiology
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Delusions / etiology*
  • Depersonalization / etiology
  • Hallucinations / etiology
  • Humans
  • Phantom Limb / etiology
  • Robotics
  • Virtual Reality