Extension of perceived arm length following tool-use: Clues to plasticity of body metrics

Ambra Sposito, Nadia Bolognini, Giuseppe Vallar, Angelo Maravita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humans hold a very accurate representation of the metrics of their body parts. Recent evidence shows that the spatial estimation of body parts length, as assessed through a bisection task, is even more accurate than that of non-corporeal extrapersonal objects (Sposito, Bolognini, Vallar, Posteraro, & Maravita (2009)). In the present paper we show that human participants estimate the mid-point of their forearm, which was kept in a radial posture, to be more distal following a 15-min training with a 60. cm-long tool as compared to pre tool-use. This outcome is compatible with an increased representation of the participants' forearm length. Control experiments show that this result was not due to a mere distal proprioceptive shift induced by tool-use, and was not replicated following the use of a 20. cm-long, functionally irrelevant tool. These results strongly support the view that, although the inner knowledge of one's own body metrics appears to be one of the more stable features of body representation, body-space interactions requiring the use of tools that extend the natural range of action, entail measurable dynamic changes in the representation of body metrics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2187-2194
Number of pages8
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Body
  • Line bisection
  • Somatosensory
  • Space
  • Tool-use
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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