Distortion of mental body representations

Author: Matthew R Longo1
1 Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK. Electronic address: m.longo@bbk.ac.uk.
Conference/Journal: Trends Cogn Sci
Date published: 2021 Dec 21
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2021.11.005. , Word Count: 124

Our body is central to our sense of self, and distorted body representations are found in several serious medical conditions. This paper reviews evidence that distortions of body representations are also common in healthy individuals, and occur in domains including tactile spatial perception, proprioception, and the conscious body image. Across domains, there is a general tendency for body width to be overestimated compared to body length. Intriguingly, distortions in both eating disorders and chronic pain appear to be exaggerations of this baseline pattern of distortions, suggesting that these conditions may relate to dysfunction of mechanisms for body perception. Distortions of body representations provide a revealing window into basic aspects of self-perception.

Keywords: body image; eating disorders; pain; proprioception; self; touch.

PMID: 34952785 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2021.11.005