Altered bodily self-consciousness and peripersonal space in autism

Mul, Cari-lene, Cardini, Flavia, Stagg, Steven D., Sadeghi Esfahlani, Shabnam, Kiourtsoglou, Dimitrios, Cardellicchio, Pasquale and Aspell, Jane E. (2019) Altered bodily self-consciousness and peripersonal space in autism. Autism, 23 (8). pp. 2055-2067. ISSN 1461-7005

Accepted Version
Available under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (455kB) | Preview
Official URL:


There is some evidence that disordered self-processing in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is linked to the social impairments characteristic of the condition. To investigate whether bodily self-consciousness is altered in ASD as a result of multisensory processing differences, we tested responses to the full body illusion (FBI) and measured peripersonal space (PPS) in 22 adults with ASD and 29 neurotypical adults. In the FBI setup, participants wore a head mounted display showing a view of their 'virtual body' being stroked synchronously or asynchronously with respect to felt stroking on their back. After stroking, we measured the drift in perceived self-location and self-identification with the virtual body. To assess the PPS boundary we employed an audiotactile reaction time task. Results showed that participants with ASD are markedly less susceptible to the FBI, not demonstrating the illusory self-identification and self-location drift. Strength of self-identification was negatively correlated with severity of autistic traits and contributed positively to empathy scores. Results also demonstrated a significantly smaller PPS, with a sharper (steeper) boundary, in ASD participants. These results suggest that bodily self-consciousness is altered in participants with ASD due to differences in multisensory integration, and this may be linked to deficits in social functioning.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: autism, bodily self, peripersonal space, multisensory integration
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Dr Jane Aspell
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2019 09:39
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2022 12:27

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item