Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

FP7

BODILY SELF Report Summary

Project reference: 313755
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC

Mid-Term Report Summary - BODILY SELF (Embodied Minds and Mentalised Bodies)

How does the acting, sensing and feeling body shape our mind? The project BODILY SELF has provided new and timely answers to thousand-year-old questions regarding the relationship between the body and the mind. Using pioneering interdisciplinary approaches, which span psychology, philosophy, psychoanalysis and clinical neuroscience, our methods and findings suggest changes are needed in the way scientists, clinicians and doctors ask certain key questions about our psychological relationship with our own physical body. We have particularly focused on how the brain combines sensory information received from the environment and from other people, with prior experiences and expectations, to form a healthy and coherent sense of self-awareness in the ‘here-and-now’. We have been able to operationalise a number of complex facets of social support in the lab and thus systematically study their neurobiological mechanisms and effects on basic safety and threat signals received at the level of the skin, namely cutaneous pain and affective touch. Early in the project, we discovered that affective, interpersonal touch may have a unique role in shaping how we experience the boundaries of our body psychologically (Crucianelli et al., 2013; Bodily pleasure matters: velocity of touch modulates body ownership during the rubber hand illusion). This discovery, now replicated by two independent groups, has lead us to re-focus some of the resources and time of the overall project on further innovative studies on affective touch and the bodily self. For example, we have recently published a paper in Current Biology (Gentsch et al., 2015; Active Interpersonal Touch Gives Rise to the Social Softness Illusion) demonstrating unique hedonic effects of interpersonal (social) versus intrapersonal touch and we have also found beneficial effects of such affective touch on pain, as well as in more general body-awareness disturbances in neurological patients (manuscripts in preparation). We have also been the first team to highlight that lesions affective neural areas associated with social cognition may underlie some disorders of body awareness in neurology, despite the seemingly more basic deficits associated with sensory and motor mechanisms (Besharati et al., 2015; Brain: Mentalising the Body). Finally, we have also led the global organisation of academics, clinicians and scholars of affective touch by founding the International Society for Affective Touch and successfully hosting its inaugural meeting at UCL. It is anticipated that the contacts established via this activities will widen the impact of our findings, facilitate further interdisciplinary studies, using state-of-the-art technologies and most importantly lead to important policy and technological changes in a society which is currently captured by visual images of the body, at the detriment of other bodily dimensions such as touch.

Contact

Machell, Giles (European Contracts Executive)
Tel.: +44 20 3108 3020
Fax: +44 20 7813 2849
E-mail
Record Number: 183410 / Last updated on: 2016-05-26
Information source: SESAM