Neural integration in body perception

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The perception of other people is instrumental in guiding social interactions. For example, the appearance of the human body cues a wide range of inferences regarding sex, age, health and personality, as well as emotional state and intentions, which influence social behaviour. To date, most neuroscience research on body perception has aimed to characterise the functional
contribution of segregated patches of cortex in the ventral visual stream. In light of the growing prominence of network architectures in neuroscience, the current paper reviews neuroimaging studies that measure functional integration between different brain regions during body perception. The review demonstrates that body perception is not restricted to processing in the ventral visual stream, but instead reflects a functional alliance between the
ventral visual stream and extended neural systems associated with action perception, executive functions and theory-of-mind. Overall, these findings demonstrate how body percepts are constructed through interactions in distributed brain networks and underscores that functional segregation and integration should be considered together when formulating neurocognitive theories of body perception. Insight from such an updated model of body
perception generalises to inform the organisational structure of social perception and cognition more generally, and also informs disorders of body image, such as anorexia nervosa, which may rely on atypical integration of body-related information.


  • Body perception, fMRI, Functional connectivity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1442-1451
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number10
Early online date31 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

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