Did you skip leg day? The neural mechanisms of muscle perception for body parts

Ip, K., Kusyk, N., Stephen, I.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-9714-8295 and Brooks, K.R., 2023. Did you skip leg day? The neural mechanisms of muscle perception for body parts. Cortex. ISSN 0010-9452

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While the neural mechanisms underpinning the perception of muscularity are poorly understood, recent progress has been made using the psychophysical technique of visual adaptation. Prolonged visual exposure to high (low) muscularity bodies causes subsequently viewed bodies to appear less (more) muscular, revealing a recalibration of the neural populations encoding muscularity. Here, we use visual adaptation to further elucidate the tuning properties of the neural processes underpinning muscle perception for the upper and lower halves of the body. Participants manipulated the apparent muscularity of upper and lower bodies until they appeared ‘normal’, prior to and following exposure to a series of top/bottom halves of bodies that were either high or low in muscularity. In Experiment 1, participants were adapted to isolated own-gender body halves from one of four conditions; increased (muscularity) upper (body half), increased lower, decreased upper, or decreased lower. Despite the presence of muscle aftereffects when the body halves the participants viewed and manipulated were congruent, there was only weak evidence of muscle aftereffect transfer between the upper and lower halves of the body. Aftereffects were significantly weaker when body halves were incongruent, implying minimal overlap in the neural mechanisms encoding muscularity for body half. Experiment 2 examined the generalisability of Experiment 1’s findings in a more ecologically valid context using whole-body stimuli, producing a similar pattern of results as Experiment 1, but with no evidence of cross-adaptation. Taken together, the findings are most consistent with muscle-encoding neural populations that are body-half selective. As visual adaptation has been implicated in cases of body size and shape misperception, the present study furthers our current understanding of how these perceptual inaccuracies, particularly those involving muscularity, are developed, maintained, and may potentially be treated.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Cortex
Creators: Ip, K., Kusyk, N., Stephen, I.D. and Brooks, K.R.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: 3 November 2023
ISSN: 0010-9452
Rights: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 07 Nov 2023 11:55
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 11:55
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/50303

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