This racket is not mine: The influence of the tool-use on peripersonal space

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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to test whether the peripersonal space (PPS), defined as the portion of the space immediately surrounding the body, is modulated by the long-term motor experience with a specific tool in a sportsmen population. To this end, we evaluated, by means of a multisensory integration paradigm, how tennis players and novices to the sport of tennis perceived the PPS while holding a tennis racket. Going deeply, in the case of the athletes, we tested the effect of their personal racket, i.e., the one they regularly use during their sport activities, compared to a common one. When handling one of these objects or nothing, participants were requested to verbally respond to a tactile stimulus administered at the right wrist while hearing a task-irrelevant sound emitted by a speaker positioned either near to the hand (Near) or far from it (Far). Reaction time to a tactile stimulus associated with the Far sound were higher than those associated with the Near sound when tennis players and novices held the common racket, whereas this difference disappeared when the athletes handled the personal tennis racket. These results suggest that the tool daily used during sport activity is stably embodied in the peripersonal space of tennis players.

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