We perceive our body and peripersonal environment through multiple sensory modalities. The distance receptors (e.g., vision and audition), provide information about stimuli in both personal and extrapersonal space. The direct receptors (e.g., touch and proprioception) provide information about the body and external stimuli impinging on the body. Having multiple modalities bestows advantages by providing complementary and independent sources of information about the environment and consequently makes our responses more efficient. However, integrating the senses across the body also presents computational problems for the human nervous system. For example, in order to locate in the visual field an object perceived through touch we must take account of the current posture of the body. In this application I propose a two-phase programme of research directed at investigating how infants and children develop multisensory representations of their limbs and bodies and stimuli impinging upon their bodies (embodied multisensory development). Phase 1 (years 1-3) will undertake a cross-sectional investigation into the developmental time-course of emerging body representations, utilizing a number of behavioural and physiological measures (EEG). The paradigms and findings of Phase 1 will then be used to inform the design of Phase 2 (years 3-5), which will investigate the causal drivers of developmental change in body representations at a behavioural and brain-systems level using a variety of longitudinal and clinical methods.
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