Journal article

Somatoparaphrenia: a body delusion. A review of the neuropsychological literature

A review of published brain-damaged patients showing delusional beliefs concerning the contralesional side of the body (somatoparaphrenia) is presented. Somatoparaphrenia has been reported, with a few exceptions, in right-brain-damaged patients, with motor and somatosensory deficits, and the syndrome of unilateral spatial neglect. Somatoparaphrenia, most often characterized by a delusion of disownership of left-sided body parts, may however occur without associated anosognosia for motor deficits, and personal neglect. Also somatosensory deficits may not be a core pathological mechanism of somatoparaphrenia, and visual field disorders may be absent. Deficits of proprioception, however, may play a relevant role. Somatoparaphrenia is often brought about by extensive right-sided lesions, but patients with posterior (parietal-temporal), and insular damage are on record, as well as a few patients with subcortical lesions. Possible pathological factors include a deranged representation of the body concerned with ownership, mainly right-hemisphere-based, and deficits of multisensory integration. Finally, the rubber hand illusion, that brings about a bodily misattribution in neurologically unimpaired participants, as somatoparaphrenia does in brain-damaged patients, is briefly discussed.


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