The hidden hand is perceived closer to midline.


Neuroscience Research Australia, Margaret Ainsworth Building, Sydney, NSW, 2031, Australia. [Email]


Whether visible or not, knowing the location of our hands is fundamental to how we perceive ourselves and interact with our environment. The present study investigated perceived hand location in the absence of vision in 30 participants. Their right index finger was placed 10, 20 or 30 cm away on either side of the body midline, with and without their left index finger placed 10 cm to the left of the right index. On average, at each position, participants perceived their right hand closer to the body midline than it actually was. This underestimation increased linearly with increased distance of the hand from body midline [slope 0.77 (0.74 to 0.81), mean (95% CI)]. Participants made smaller errors in perceived hand location when the right hand was in the contralateral workspace [mean difference 2.13 cm (1.57 to 2.69)]. Presence of the left hand on the support surface had little or no effect on perceived location of the right hand [mean difference [Formula: see text] cm ([Formula: see text] to 0.02)]. Overall, participants made systematic perceptual errors immediately after hand placement. The magnitude of these errors grew linearly as the hand got further away from the body midline. Because of their magnitude, these errors may contribute to errors in motor planning when visual feedback is not available. Also, these errors are important for studies in which perceived hand location is assessed after some time, for example, when studying illusions of body ownership and proprioceptive drift.


Body awareness,Body midline,Hand location,Proprioception,