What we are interested in
The skin separates our body from the environment. Touch is therefore the sense that happens at the border of our self and the external world. If we want to understand how the brain processes touch, we must also understand how the brain represents our body.
When we reach towards an object that we have identified with our eyes, the brain can use touch and body posture to optimize the reach. For reaching (and, more generally, actions) directed towards something we perceived through touch, the brain is faced with a special situation: now, body posture and touch concern not only the limb with which we reach, but also the part of the body to which the reach is directed. That is, the brain must disentangle information related to the acting effector and the target on the body.
Both reach planning and body perception have been associated with the parietal cortex, sometimes even with identical subregions of this structure. Research on reaching (i.e., action in space) has usually focused on the visual domain. Conversely, research on touch has often focused on perceptual aspects, but has neglected how touch is further processed to specify a response. How the two processes, perceiving touch and acting towards it, interact and how they are organized in parietal cortex, are central questions of the research group.