Newly Funded Projects

Altering cutaneous sensations by autosuggestion

Autosuggestion is one form of self-suggestion and follows the idea that the constant, inner repetition of a thought can be converted into corresponding ideomotor, ideosensory, and ideoaffective states. Autosuggestion, therefore, assumes that one’s own mind has the power to convert a thought into reality as long as the thought is within the realm of possibility. This concept is certainly captivating, and nowadays used in many life and job coaching concepts. However, empirical evidence on how far and to what extent autosuggestion can indeed alter one’s own neurophysiological bodily states is so far scarce. Here, we use a combination of state-of-the-art neuroimaging technology (7 Tesla functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI) together with psychophysical modelling techniques and electrophysiological recordings (EEG), to answer the question of how the inner repetition of an idea influences tactile sensations at the body on a phenomenological, behavioural, and neurophysiological level.

In collaboration with Dr Esther Kuehn, Institut for Cognitive Neurology and Dementia Research, Magdeburg, Germany.

Project funded by the Bial Foundation Research Grants 2019.


- Dividing space: The use of categorical information in the remembering of tactile and visual locations

Humans naturally divide space into categories, forming boundaries and central values (Huttenlocher et al., 1991, Psychol Rev). These categories are believed to provide a fundamental source of information used to structure our perception of the world (Cheng et al., 2007, Psychol Bull). For instance, in remembering the location of a stimulus, inexact memories of the remembered location are averaged with prototypical values for a given category (e.g., a location central to the area where an object could be). The use of prior information increases perceptual accuracy, though at the expense of introducing systematic bias (Huttenlocher et al., 2004, Cognition). Revealing the internal structure of these biases can become a powerful tool to understand how humans categorize space, and the impact that prior information has on perception. In an ongoing research, we have developed novel methods to generate complete maps of the internal structure of localization biases from memory, both for visual events and locations of tactile events. In the present project, we will provide a deeper understanding of the nature and role of prototypical information for spatial localization in vision, touch and proprioception.


In collaboration with Prof Matthew Longo and Dr RaffaeleTucciarelli, Birkbeck, University London, United Kingdom

Project funded by the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) Small Grants 2019.

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