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Extended peripersonal space in professional fencers


Canzoneri E, Leo,  F
Research Group Cognitive Neuroimaging, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Serino, A., Canzoneri E, Leo, F., Furetta, C., & Làdavas, E. (2011). Extended peripersonal space in professional fencers. Talk presented at 12th International Multisensory Research Forum (IMRF 2011). Toulouse, France.

A brief experience of using a tool to act upon far, unreachable, objects quickly modifies the action space, extending transiently the limits of the Peripersonal Space (PPS), i.e., a limited space surrounding the body where stimuli from different sensory modalities are integrated. Here we investigated whether a possible long-term extension of the PPS could be shown in professional fencers, who train everyday with their weapon to “invade” another person’s PPS and “defend” their own PPS. Subjects performed an audio tactile interaction task to assess the PPS around their right hand, either while holding a short handle or their weapon. While holding the handle, the perception of a tactile stimulus at the hand was affected by a sound only when this was perceived near the hand and not in the far space. Conversely, when professional fencers held their weapon, far auditory stimuli interacted with tactile stimuli at the hand, thus suggesting that the boundaries of the multisensory PPS shifted to the tip of the weapon. Preliminary results suggest that the extension effect on the PPS varies between foil and sabre users, due to the different functional use of these two kinds of weapon.