Embodied representation of the body contains veridical spatial information

Marijn E. Struiksma, Matthijs Leendert Noordzij, Albert Postma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In two experiments, the extent to which mental body representations contain spatial information was examined. Participants were asked to compare distances between various body parts. Similar to what happens when people compare distances on a real visual stimulus, they were faster as the distance differences between body parts became larger (Experiment 1), and this effect could not (only) be explained by the crossing of major bodily categories (umbilicus to knee vs. knee to ankle; Experiment 2). In addition, participants also performed simple animate/inanimate verification on a set of nouns. The nouns describing animate items were names of body parts. A spatial priming effect was found: Verification was faster for body part items preceded by body parts in close spatial proximity. This suggests automatic activation of spatial body information. Taken together, results from the distance comparison task and the property verification task showed that mental body representations contain both categorical and more metric spatial information. These findings are further discussed in terms of recent embodied cognition theories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1124-1137
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly journal of experimental psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • METIS-279755
  • Distance comparison effect
  • Auditory
  • Spatial priming effect
  • Body image
  • Veridical metric distances
  • IR-77690

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