Distinct contributions of Brodmann areas 1 and 2 to body ownership
Although body ownership – i.e. the feeling that our bodies belong to us – modulates activity within the primary somatosensory cortex (S1), it is still unknown whether this modulation occurs within a somatotopically defined portion of S1. We induced an illusory feeling of ownership for another person's finger by asking participants to hold their palm against another person's palm and to stroke the two joined index fingers with the index and thumb of their other hand. This illusion (numbness illusion) does not occur if the stroking is performed by the other person. We combined this somatosensory paradigm with ultra-high field fMRI finger mapping to study whether illusory body ownership modulates activity within different finger-specific areas of S1. The results revealed that the numbness illusion is associated with activity in Broadman area (BA) 1 within the representation of the finger stroking the other person's finger and in BA 2 contralateral to the stroked finger. These results show that changes in bodily experience modulate the activity within certain subregions of S1, with a different topographical selectivity between the representations of the stroking and of the stroked hand, and reveal that the high degree of somatosensory specialization in S1 extends to bodily self-consciousness.