Common and distinct brain regions processing multisensory bodily signals for peripersonal space and body ownership

Neuroimage. 2017 Feb 15:147:602-618. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.12.052. Epub 2016 Dec 23.


We take the feeling that our body belongs to us for granted. However, recent research has shown that it is possible to alter the subjective sensation of body ownership (BO) by manipulating multisensory bodily inputs. Several frontal and parietal regions are known to specifically process multisensory cues presented close to the body, i.e., within the peripersonal space (PPS). It has been proposed that these PPS fronto-parietal regions also underlie BO. However, most previous studies investigated the brain mechanisms of either BO or of PPS processing separately and by using a variety of paradigms. Here, we conducted an extensive meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies to investigate PPS and BO processing in humans in order to: a) assess quantitatively where each one of these functions was individually processed in the brain; b) identify whether and where these processes shared common or engaged distinct brain mechanisms; c) characterize these areas in terms of whole-brain co-activation networks and functions, respectively. We identified (i) a bilateral PPS network including superior parietal, temporo-parietal and ventral premotor regions and (ii) a BO network including posterior parietal cortex (right intraparietal sulcus, IPS; and left IPS and superior parietal lobule, SPL), right ventral premotor cortex, and the left anterior insula. Co-activation maps related to both PPS and BO encompassed largely overlapping fronto-parietal networks, but whereas the PPS network was more frequently associated with sensorimotor tasks, the BO network was rather associated with attention and awareness tasks. Finally, the conjunction analysis showed that (iii) PPS and BO tasks anatomically overlapped only in two clusters located in the left parietal cortex (dorsally at the intersection between the SPL, the IPS and area 2 and ventrally between areas 2 and IPS). Distinct activations were located for PPS at the temporo-parietal junction and for BO in the anterior insula. These results in PPS and BO and provide evidence-based insight about the overlap of the two processes in the IPS region and the extensive connectivity between the two associated co-activation networks. They also show significant dissociations, with PPS fronto-parietal areas located more proximal to the central sulcus than BO areas. Such anatomical distinction may also reflect the different functions of the two processes, whereby PPS areas underlie a multisensory-motor interface for body-objects interaction and BO areas being involved in bodily awareness and self-consciousness.

Keywords: ALE meta-analysis; Bodily self-consciousness; Body ownership; Multisensory integration; PET; Peripersonal space; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Body Image*
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Functional Neuroimaging*
  • Humans
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Sensation / physiology*