Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 237, Issue 5, pp 1325–1337 | Cite as

Differential influence of habitual third-person vision of a body part on mental rotation of images of hands and feet

  • Louisa M. Edwards
  • Ryan S. Causby
  • Halton Stewart
  • Tasha R. StantonEmail author
Research Article


Left/right judgement (LRJ) tasks involve determining the laterality of presented hand or feet images. Allocentric images (third-person perspective; 3PP) take longer to identify than egocentric images (first-person perspective; 1PP), supporting that implicit motor imagery (IMI)—mentally manoeuvring one’s body to match the shown posture—is used. While numerous cognitive processes are involved during LRJs, it remains unclear whether features of the individual (e.g., visual exposure, experience, task-dependent use) influence the type of recognition strategy used during LRJs (IMI versus non-IMI). To investigate whether an individual’s routine visual exposure to hands/feet in 3PP disrupts the typical perspective–reaction time (RT) relationship in LRJs, hand therapists, podiatrists, and healthy controls completed online LRJ tasks of hand and feet images. A group-specific reduction in RT for only allocentric images would represent a switch to non-IMI strategies. The results show that routine visual exposure to feet in 3PP (podiatrists) results in quicker RTs only for allocentric images of feet, suggesting a switch from IMI to non-IMI (e.g., visual object-based recognition) strategies. In contrast, routine visual exposure to hands in 3PP (hand therapists) does not alter RT for allocentric images, suggesting maintenance of IMI. However, hand therapists have quicker RTs (vs other groups) for egocentric hand images, supporting enhanced sensorimotor processing for the hand, consistent with task-dependent use (precise hand use). Higher accuracy in health professionals (vs control) on both tasks supports enhanced body schema. Combined, this suggests that 3PP visual exposure to body parts and task-dependent use contribute to LRJ performance/recognition strategy.


Left/right judgement task Implicit motor imagery Visual object-based recognition Frame of reference Egocentric Allocentric 



TRS supported by a National Health & Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship (ID1054041). We would also like to thank Dr David Butler and Mr Tim Cocks from NOIgroup Ltd for their assistance in setting up the left/right judgement task and for use of their NOIgroup research platform to host our online study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

TRS received travel and accommodation support from Eli Lilly Ltd for speaking engagements (September 2014, unrelated to the present topic). All other authors have no conflicts to declare.

Supplementary material

221_2019_5512_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (173 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 172 KB)
221_2019_5512_MOESM2_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 12 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health SciencesUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Neuro Orthopaedic Institute (NOI)AdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Neuroscience Research AustraliaRandwickAustralia

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