Date: 22 November 2023
Title: Perception of extra body parts & body part weight
Speaker: Denise Cadete, PhD student at the Body Representation Lab, Birkbeck
University of London
Abstract: In everyday life, we have a constant and reliable experience of our own bodies. However, the perception of our body can be instantly altered using multisensory illusions or Virtual Reality. This flexibility is not restricted to the human
body configuration, with recent studies showing we can also feel extra body parts. In the first part of the presentation, I will present the six finger illusion and what our
findings tell us about how supernumerary body parts are represented in the brain.
We will make a case for the independence and flexibility of how we represent extra body parts, also aiming to determine what are its limits.
In the second part, I will introduce our studies looking into how we perceive the weight of body parts. Perception of object’s weight has been studied for over a century, however little is known about weight perception of body parts. A recent
study of our lab showed that we systematically and dramatically underestimate hand
weight by 49% (Ferrè et al., 2023) , an effect we called weightedness, for how light we experience body parts, on Earth. We further investigated how perceived hand size changed felt hand weight, and in another study we looked at perceived hand volume.
We will propose a model of constant density in the perception of body part weight.
Bio: Denise Cadete is a PhD student funded by the FCT (Portuguese Foundation for
Science & (Technology), researching the flexibility and limits of body representation.
Specifically, she is interested in the embodiment of extra body parts, and how they are represented in the brain. She works at the Body Representation lab, in Birkbeck, under the supervision of Prof. Matthew Longo and Prof. Elisa Ferrè. She has a degree in Philosophy by the University of Lisbon, and after a diversified non- academic career she did an MSc In Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology at
Birkbeck University. She has been using multisensory illusions, psychophysics
methods and Virtual Reality to investigate the limits of embodiment.