Multisensory integration and the body schema: close to hand and within reach.
Maravita A., Spence C., Driver J.
There has been a recent and dramatic growth of interest in the psychological and neural mechanisms of multisensory integration between different sensory modalities. Much of this recent research has focused specifically on how multisensory representations of body parts and of the 'peripersonal' space immediately around them, are constructed. Research has also focused on how this may lead to multisensorially determined perceptions of body parts, to action execution, and even to attributions of agency and self-ownership for the body parts in question. Converging evidence from animal and human studies suggests that the primate brain constructs various body-part-centred representations of space, based on the integration of visual, tactile and proprioceptive information. These representations can plastically change following active tool-use that extends reachable space and also modifies the representation of peripersonal space. These new results indicate that a modern cognitive neuroscience approach to the classical concept of the 'body schema' may now be within reach.