Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 192, Issue 3, pp 533–551 | Cite as

Somatoparaphrenia: a body delusion. A review of the neuropsychological literature

  • Giuseppe VallarEmail author
  • Roberta RonchiEmail author


A review of published brain-damaged patients showing delusional beliefs concerning the contralesional side of the body (somatoparaphrenia) is presented. Somatoparaphrenia has been reported, with a few exceptions, in right-brain-damaged patients, with motor and somatosensory deficits, and the syndrome of unilateral spatial neglect. Somatoparaphrenia, most often characterized by a delusion of disownership of left-sided body parts, may however occur without associated anosognosia for motor deficits, and personal neglect. Also somatosensory deficits may not be a core pathological mechanism of somatoparaphrenia, and visual field disorders may be absent. Deficits of proprioception, however, may play a relevant role. Somatoparaphrenia is often brought about by extensive right-sided lesions, but patients with posterior (parietal-temporal), and insular damage are on record, as well as a few patients with subcortical lesions. Possible pathological factors include a deranged representation of the body concerned with ownership, mainly right-hemisphere-based, and deficits of multisensory integration. Finally, the rubber hand illusion, that brings about a bodily misattribution in neurologically unimpaired participants, as somatoparaphrenia does in brain-damaged patients, is briefly discussed.


Rubber Hand Vestibular Stimulation Rubber Hand Illusion Spatial Neglect Visual Field Deficit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Supported in part by PRIN MIUR 2005 and FAR 2007 Grants to G.V. We are grateful to Peter Brugger, Alberto Gallace, Manos Tsakiris, and to an anonymous referee, for their many helpful comments and suggestions. Claudio Luzzatti searched for us and translated a precious historical case, and the work by Ehrenwald. Todd Feinberg provided useful material and suggestions. Elena Daprati provided useful information about the patient she had studied.


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© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  2. 2.Neuropsychological LaboratoryIRCCS Istituto Auxologico ItalianoMilanItaly

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