Annual Meeting Belgian Association for Psychological Science location:Leuven, Belgium date:27 May 2014
Human bodies, just like faces, carry strong socially relevant information, especially in interactive contexts. Overall, there is consensus that social information cues are (visually) processed in a fast and efficient manner. However, the exact nature of visually processing the human body is still a matter of debate. One of the unanswered questions is whether human bodies are holistically processed (e.g., via the spatial relationships between the limbs) or analytically processed without the use of such relational information. To this discussion, we compared right-hemisphere brain damaged patients with hemineglect, right-hemisphere brain damaged patients without hemineglect and healthy controls. Hemineglect is mostly characterized with lesions to the dorsal area of the parietal lobe, a region involved in the processing of spatial relationships, which leads to a deficit in the ability of perceiving the contralesional hemifield. To study configural body posture processing, we used the body composite paradigm (the composite parardigm originally being developed to study face processing). In this paradigm participants are presented (sequentially) with two body postures. In one experiment, they have to decide whether the top halves of the two postures are the same; in another experiment, they have to decide on the identity of the right half of the body. There is interference in task-relevant same trials (top in Experiment 1 and right in Experiment 2) when the two stimuli differ in the task-irrelevant body part (bottom in Experiment 1 and left in Experiment 2), but only when the body parts are aligned, not when they are misaligned. We show that this effect is modulated by right-hemisphere neglect. Implications, both for neglect and a better understanding of configural body processing, are discussed.