Somatotopic representation of location: Evidence from the simon effect

Jared Medina, Michael McCloskey, H. Branch Coslett, Brenda Rapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Representing the locations of tactile stimulation can involve somatotopic reference frames in which locations are defined relative to a position on the skin surface, and also external reference frames that take into account stimulus position in external space. Locations in somatotopic and external reference frames can conflict in terms of left/right assignment when the hands are crossed or positioned outside of their typical hemispace. To investigate the spatial codes of the representation of both tactile stimuli and responses to touch, a Simon effect task, often used in the visual modality to examine issues of spatial reference frames, was deployed in the tactile modality. Participants performed the task with stimuli delivered to the hands with arms in crossed or uncrossed postures and responses were produced with foot pedals. Across all 4 experiments, participants were faster on somatotopically congruent trials (e.g., left hand stimulus, left foot response) than on somatotopically incongruent trials (left hand stimulus, right foot response), regardless of arm or leg position. However, some evidence of an externally based Simon effect also appeared in 1 experiment in which arm (stimulus) and leg (response) position were both manipulated. Overall, the results demonstrate that tactile stimulus and response codes are primarily generated based on their somatotopic identity. However, stimulus and response coding based on an external reference frame can become more salient when both hands and feet can be crossed, creating a situation in which somatotopic and external representations can differ for both stimulus and response codes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2131-2142
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014


  • Frames of reference
  • Simon effect
  • Somatosensory
  • Tactile localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Somatotopic representation of location: Evidence from the simon effect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this