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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

October 2018, Vol. 30, No. 10, Pages 1442-1451
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01299)
© 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Neural Integration in Body Perception
Article PDF (996.21 KB)
The perception of other people is instrumental in guiding social interactions. For example, the appearance of the human body cues a wide range of inferences regarding sex, age, health, and personality, as well as emotional state and intentions, which influence social behavior. To date, most neuroscience research on body perception has aimed to characterize the functional contribution of segregated patches of cortex in the ventral visual stream. In light of the growing prominence of network architectures in neuroscience, the current article reviews neuroimaging studies that measure functional integration between different brain regions during body perception. The review demonstrates that body perception is not restricted to processing in the ventral visual stream but instead reflects a functional alliance between the ventral visual stream and extended neural systems associated with action perception, executive functions, and theory of mind. Overall, these findings demonstrate how body percepts are constructed through interactions in distributed brain networks and underscore that functional segregation and integration should be considered together when formulating neurocognitive theories of body perception. Insight from such an updated model of body perception generalizes to inform the organizational structure of social perception and cognition more generally and also informs disorders of body image, such as anorexia nervosa, which may rely on atypical integration of body-related information.