Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Neuropsychologia . 2020 Sep;146:107535. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.10753

ERP indices of an orientation-dependent recognition of the human body schema

While it is well-established that the face perception is orientation-dependent, less evidence has been provided on the effects of the orientation on the body schema processing and related attentive mechanisms. Poorer performance in same/different judgment tasks and increased occipito-temporal N1 response to the inverted (vs. upright) body schema seem to hint at an orientation-dependent perceptual mechanism. The present electrophysiological study investigated the role of attentive selection processes required to recognize the inverted (vs. upright) body schema by means of the event-related potentials (ERP). 320 different images depicting body shapes (wooden dummies) as opposed to random structures of cubes were created in 3D graphics. Thirty-two right-handed participants were presented with the stimuli in an upright and inverted orientation. They were required to alternatively recognize one of the two categories of stimuli (by button press) regardless of the orientation, during EEG recording. The body inversion led to increased reaction times during body schema recognition. A slower anterior N2, larger N1, Selection Negativity (SN), and increased parietal P300 components were elicited by the perception of the inverted body schema. Slower stimulus processing and increased attention allocation were associated with the processing of the inverted body schema. The swLORETA source reconstruction (in the SN time window) showed enhanced engagement of prefrontal, limbic, and temporal regions during the perception of the inverted body schema. At the same time, the cubes' orientation did not affect ERP amplitudes. Overall, these pieces of evidence seem to suggest a crucial role of the upright orientation in the visual recognition of the human body schema.

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