How Visual Body Perception Influences Somatosensory Plasticity

Neural Plast. 2018 Mar 11;2018:7909684. doi: 10.1155/2018/7909684. eCollection 2018.


The study of somatosensory plasticity offers unique insights into the neuronal mechanisms that underlie human adaptive and maladaptive plasticity. So far, little attention has been paid on the specific influence of visual body perception on somatosensory plasticity and learning in humans. Here, we review evidence on how visual body perception induces changes in the functional architecture of the somatosensory system and discuss the specific influence the social environment has on tactile plasticity and learning. We focus on studies that have been published in the areas of human cognitive and clinical neuroscience and refer to animal studies when appropriate. We discuss the therapeutic potential of socially mediated modulations of somatosensory plasticity and introduce specific paradigms to induce plastic changes under controlled conditions. This review offers a contribution to understanding the complex interactions between social perception and somatosensory learning by focusing on a novel research field: socially mediated sensory plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Social Environment
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology
  • Touch Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*