Journal article

Your place or mine: Shared sensory experiences elicit a remapping of peripersonal space

Our perceptual systems integrate multisensory information about objects that are close to our bodies, which allow us to respond quickly and appropriately to potential threats, as well as act upon and manipulate useful tools. Intriguingly, the representation of this area close to our body, known as the multisensory 'peripersonal space' (PPS), can expand or contract during social interactions. However, it is not yet known how different social interactions can alter the representation of PPS. In particular, shared sensory experiences, such as those elicited by bodily illusions such as the enfacement illusion, can induce feelings of ownership over the other's body which has also been shown to increase the remapping of the other's sensory experiences onto our own bodies. The current study investigated whether such shared sensory experiences between two people induced by the enfacement illusion could alter the way PPS was represented, and whether this alteration could be best described as an expansion of one's own PPS towards the other or a remapping of the other's PPS onto one's own. An audio-tactile integration task allowed us to measure the extent of the PPS before and after a shared sensory experience with a confederate. Our results showed a clear increase in audio-tactile integration in the space close to the confederate's body after the shared experience. Importantly, this increase did not extend across the space between participant and confederate, as would be expected if the participant's PPS had expanded. Thus, the pattern of results is more consistent with a partial remapping of the confederate's PPS onto the participant's own PPS. These results have important consequences for our understanding of interpersonal space during different kinds of social interactions. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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