Somatosensory processing and body representations

The somatosensory system is involved in many aspects of our behaviour. It provides information about the position of different parts of the body with respect to one another. It allows characterisation and localisation of touch, stroking, itch and pain, and it is important for all motor action involving the body and limbs. The central question addressed in our research is how somatosensory processing is organised to subserve these different functions. In our studies we assess somatosensory and body representation deficits in various clinical conditions including eating disorders, Parkinson’s disease, autism and somatic symptom disorder. In addition we investigate bodily illusions and characterize tactile processing using behavioural experiments in healthy individuals.


  • Anouk Keizer
  • Manja Engel
  • Larissa Meijer
  • Jutta de Jong
  • Kees Jan van der Boom

Peripersonal space

Over the last two decades, evidence for a multimodal representation of the space near the body, the peripersonal space, has been accumulating. There is considerable evidence for a body-centred reference frame in which tactile and nearby visual stimuli is integrated. This integration facilitates sensorimotor control, perceptual detection and affective judgements of approaching people and objects. Our research investigates the idea that various functions exploit the same mechanism, e.g. the predictive value afforded by a visual stimulus presented close to the observer, namely the occurrence of an impending bodily sensory stimulus.


  • Anneloes van der Meij

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