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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2018, Article ID 7909684, 12 pages
Review Article

How Visual Body Perception Influences Somatosensory Plasticity

1Aging and Cognition Research Group, DZNE, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
2Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences Magdeburg, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
3Department of Neurology, BG University Hospital Bergmannsheil, Ruhr-University Bochum, 44789 Bochum, Germany

Correspondence should be addressed to Esther Kuehn; ed.enzd@nheuk.rehtse

Received 1 October 2017; Revised 9 January 2018; Accepted 16 January 2018; Published 11 March 2018

Academic Editor: Michela Bassolino

Copyright © 2018 Esther Kuehn and Burkhard Pleger. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The study of somatosensory plasticity offers unique insights into the neuronal mechanisms that underlie human adaptive and maladaptive plasticity. So far, little attention has been paid on the specific influence of visual body perception on somatosensory plasticity and learning in humans. Here, we review evidence on how visual body perception induces changes in the functional architecture of the somatosensory system and discuss the specific influence the social environment has on tactile plasticity and learning. We focus on studies that have been published in the areas of human cognitive and clinical neuroscience and refer to animal studies when appropriate. We discuss the therapeutic potential of socially mediated modulations of somatosensory plasticity and introduce specific paradigms to induce plastic changes under controlled conditions. This review offers a contribution to understanding the complex interactions between social perception and somatosensory learning by focusing on a novel research field: socially mediated sensory plasticity.