In (or outside of) your neck of the woods: laterality in spatial body representation
Frontiers Media SA -- Frontiers in Psychology
DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00123
  1. left–right handedness
  2. lateralization
  3. personal space
  4. body representation
  5. somatosensation

Beside language, space is to date the most widely recognized lateralized systems. For example, it has been shown that even mental representations of space and the spatial representation of concepts display lateralized characteristics. For the most part, this body of literature describes space as distal or something outside of the observer or actor. What has been strangely absent in the literature on the whole and specifically in the spatial literature until recently is the most proximal space imaginable – the body. In this review, we will summarize three strands of literature showing laterality in body representations. First, evidence of hemispheric asymmetries in body space in health and, second in body space in disease will be examined. Third, studies pointing to differential contributions of the right and left hemisphere to illusory body (space) will be summarized. Together these studies show hemispheric asymmetries to be evident in body representations at the level of simple somatosensory and proprioceptive representations. We propose a novel working hypothesis, whereby neural systems dedicated to processing action-oriented information about one’s own body space may ontogenetically serve as a template for the perception of the external world.