Body and Self Research Area

Members of the Body and Self Research Area investigate the multisensory representation of the body and the bodily self by using the methods of cognitive neuroscience.

Our research encompasses studies of body illusions (the RHI, FBI and the enfacement illusion) generated via visuo-tactile and cardio-visual conflicts. Our interests cover investigations of tactile perception, peripersonal space, interoception, body image, alexithymia, pain and empathy. We also study how bodily self-consciousness varies across development, in ASD, in pregnancy and in some neurological and psychiatric disorders. 

We have received funding from the Bial Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust. Our research has been published in leading journals including Psychological Science, Scientific Reports,The Journal of Neurophysiology, Current Biology, the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuropsychologia, and Developmental Science, and has been covered by international popular media outlets including The Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC radio and New Scientist magazine. 

We welcome enquiries about possible collaborations, postdoctoral projects or PhD study in the areas above. Please contact members directly (see individual staff pages for emails, detailed research interests and publications) or contact Jane Aspell with any general queries.

The Body and Self Research Area is part of the Brain and Cognition Research Group.


Find out more about our members on their profile pages.

Dr Jane Aspell (Co-Lead)
Dr Flavia Cardini (Co-Lead)
Tina Burton
Dr Elizabeth Kirk
Dr Suzanna Forwood
Dr Eleonora Vagnoni
Dr Richard Piech
Professor Viren Swami
Dr Shabnam Sadeghi-Esfahlani
Cari-lene Mul (PhD student)
Jennifer Todd (PhD student)
Piers Grey (PhD student)
Shyanne Roeloffs (PhD student)
Erica Berzaghi (Research Assistant)
Farah Hina (Research Assistant)
Dr John Anderson (Research Assistant)

Find out more about our Psychology PhD.


PhD student Cari-lene Mul has published her first paper: Mul, C., Stagg, S.D., Herbelin, B. & Aspell, J.E., 2018. The feeling of me feeling for you: Interoception, alexithymia and empathy in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 9: 2953–2967.

New paper by Flavia Cardini and Eleonora Vagnoni in PLOSOne: “Listening to a conversation with aggressive content expands the interpersonal space.”

Evidence for link between interoceptive sensitivity and generosity: new paper in Scientific Reports by Richard Piech and Jane Aspell

New publication by Jane Aspell and collaborators in Developmental Science: The development of bodily self-consciousness: changing responses to the Full Body Illusion in Childhood.  

Out of body illusion can tackle chronic pain - new paper by James Pamment and Jane Aspell in the European Journal of Pain. 

Flavia Cardini has recently obtained funding from the British Academy to investigate the effect of action observation on physical performance. Her studies will contribute to the recent research aimed at identifying new training strategies for skilled performances in healthy people and rehabilitative programs to restore sensorimotor functions in brain-damaged patients.

Flavia Cardini has published her study “Congruency of body-related information induces somatosensory reorganization” in the journal Neuropsychologia. The study shows that coherent information about the body is necessary for a stable representation of the body in the brain.