Embodying their own wheelchair modifies extrapersonal space perception in people with spinal cord injury.

9 agosto 2019


Scandola MTogni RTieri GAvesani RBrambilla MAglioti SMMoro V


Despite the many links between body representation, acting and perceiving the environment, no research has to date explored whether specific tool embodiment in conditions of sensorimotor deprivation influences extrapersonal space perception. We tested 20 spinal cord injured (SCI) individuals to investigate whether specific wheelchair embodiment interacts with extrapersonal space representation. As a measure of wheelchair embodiment, we used a Body View Enhancement Task in which participants (either sitting in their own wheelchair or in one which they had never used before) were asked to respond promptly to flashing lights presented on their above- and below-lesion body parts. Similar or slower reaction times (RT) to stimuli on the body and wheelchair indicate, respectively, the presence or absence of tool embodiment. The RTs showed that the participants embodied their own wheelchair but not the other one. Moreover, they coded their deprived lower limbs as external objects and, when not in their own wheelchair, also showed disownership of their intact upper limbs. To measure extrapersonal space perception, we used a novel, ad hoc designed paradigm in which the participants were asked to observe a 3D scenario by means of immersive virtual reality and estimate the distance of a flag positioned on a ramp. In healthy subjects, errors in estimation increased as the distance increased, suggesting that they mentally represent the physical distance. The same occurred with the SCI participants, but only when they were in their own wheelchair. The results demonstrate for the first time that tool embodiment modifies extrapersonal space estimations.

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The VR Pain Scale Validation

We are validating a new pain scale which discriminates among muscolo-skeletal, neuropathic and visceral pain in spinal cord injury patients.


Books and Monographs

Il test di coordinazione motoria di Charlop-Atwell: la standardizzazione italiana.
Colella R, Quadri G, Boscaini F, Moro V, Albaret JM, 2014

Tornare a scuola dopo una grave cerebrolesione Moro Valentina, Rodolfi Chiara, 2012

La plasticità cerebrale. Alle radici del cambiamento
Moro Valentina, Filippi Barbara, 2010

L'agire educativo nella riabilitazione neuropsicologica
Moro Valentina, 2005

Valentina Moro and Riccardo Sartori are directors for the SEID editor of the series "Strumenti in Psicologia, Educazione e Formazione" [Tools in Psychology, Education and Training].
The purpose of this series is to publish materials and tools for the intervention and evaluation in:

  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Training
  • Psychomotricity