Developing body representations in early life: Combining somatosensation and vision to perceive the interface between the body and the world

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Sensorimotor Development Research Unit
  • University of London


This article lays out the computational challenges involved in constructing multisensory representations of the body and the interface between the body and the external world. It then provides a review of the most pertinent empirical literature regarding the ontogeny of such representational abilities in early life, focussing especially on ability to make spatiotemporal links between bodily events transduced by vision and somatosensation (cutaneous touch and proprioception), and the ability to use multisensory bodily cues to locate tactile stimuli. Findings from infants, children, and blind adults point towards a trajectory of development in early life in which infants and children, as a result of sensory experience, learn new ways of combining cues concerning the body arising from vision and somatosensation, in order to best represent the layout of their limbs and sensory events occurring on their limbs in relation to the external environment. What this paper adds: A review of findings from studies addressing the development of an ability to form links between somatosensory cues and vision, the multisensory processes that enable us to perceive our bodies in the external world. A demonstration that there are significant postnatal developments in the ways in which typical infants and even young children perceive their bodies, and particularly the relationship between their bodies and the external world.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-16
Number of pages5
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016