Dein Kopf überschätzt deine Hand.

From The Times, June 15, 2010

Blundering goalkeepers ‘think

their hands are wider’

As the ball skimmed his glove and rolled into the back of the net, it was a moment of head-in-hands calamity for the England goalkeeper Robert Green. For scientists, the USA’s equaliser on Saturday evening may simply have confirmed the discovery that our mental representation of our hands is about two thirds wider than they really are.

A study by neuroscientists at University College London suggests that people have a distorted “mental map” of their hands, which stretches them in one direction and squashes them in the other.

In the study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 volunteers consistently estimated that their hands were about two thirds wider and about one third shorter than actual measurements.

Dr Matthew Longo, lead author from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said: “The phrase, ‘I know the town like the back of my hand’ suggests that we have nearperfect knowledge of the size and position of our own body parts, but these results show that this is far from being the case.” Participants in the study were asked to put their left hands palm down under a board and judge the location of the covered hand’s knuckles and fingertips by pointing to where they perceived each to be.

As well as getting the dimensions of the hand wrong, the volunteers’ finger-length estimate grew less accurate the further the digit was from the thumb.

While they perceived thumb size roughly correctly, they underestimated the length of the rest of their fingers and perceived their little finger as about three quarters of the length that it really was.

The underestimations appear to be linked to the relative sensory sensitivity in each of our fingers.

Scientists are still trying to establish how the effect arose and whether it is useful, or simply a trade-off from having more acute sense of touch in parts of the hand.

Dr Longo said that it was unlikely to be an evolutionary hangover, from when our hands were a different shape, as the hands and fingers of human ancestors were generally longer and narrower than those today, not shorter and wider.


~ von Panther Ray - Juni 15, 2010.

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