Enlarged representation of peripersonal space in pregnancy

Cardini, Flavia, Fatemi-Ghomi, Natalie, Gooch, Victoria, Gajewska-Knapik, Katarzyna and Aspell, Jane E. (2019) Enlarged representation of peripersonal space in pregnancy. Scientific Reports, 9. p. 8606. ISSN 2045-2322

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-45224-w


Our ability to maintain a coherent bodily self despite continuous changes within and outside our body relies on the highly flexible multisensory representation of the body, and of the space surrounding it: the peripersonal space (PPS). The aim of our study was to investigate whether during pregnancy - when extremely rapid changes in body size and shape occur - a likewise rapid plastic reorganization of the neural representation of the PPS occurs. We used an audio-tactile integration task to measure the PPS boundary at different stages of pregnancy. We found that in the second trimester of pregnancy and postpartum women did not show differences in their PPS size as compared to the control group (non-pregnant women). However, in the third trimester the PPS was larger than the controls’ PPS and the shift between representation of near and far space was more gradual. We therefore conclude that during pregnancy the brain adapts to the sudden bodily changes, by expanding the representation of the space around the body. This may represent a mechanism to protect the vulnerable abdomen from injury from surrounding objects.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: pregnancy, peripersonal space, multisensory integration, body representation
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Dr Jane Aspell
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2019 11:18
Last Modified: 05 May 2022 11:06
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/704361

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