My Personal Experience

When I visualise a specific aspect of my body, the inner mental image does not seem to be aligned with my actual physical form in space.

What I mean by this is:

Say I identify a pain in my right ankle, and in my imagination I conjure a mental picture of my ankle to help me pinpoint the exact location of the pain ...

... in my mind, the orientation of my body in the mental picture seems to be slightly forward of my actual physical body, and slightly turned or rotated towards the right.

This is a two part question:


  • Do other people share this experience ?


  • Is there any accepted explanation for the effect ?

My best guess is that it could be related to the lateralization of eye movements accompanying brain activity during different cognitive tasks.


In 1977 Robert Dilts conducted a study, at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute in San Francisco, attempting to correlate eye movements to particular cognitive and neurophysiological processes. Dilts used electrodes to track both the eye movements and brain wave characteristics of subjects who were asked questions related to using the various senses of sight, hearing and feeling for tasks involving both memory ("right brain" processing) and mental construction ("left brain" processing). Subjects were asked a series of questions in eight groupings. Each grouping of questions appealed to a particular type of cognitive processing_visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and emotional (visceral feelings). Each was also geared to either memory (non-dominant hemisphere processing) or construction (dominant hemisphere processing). Dilts' recordings tended to confirm other tests which showed that lateralization of eye movements accompanied brain activity during different cognitive tasks. This pattern also seemed to hold for tasks requiring different senses. Looking upwards and the right can indicate imaginative construction of a picture.


Eyes Up and Right: Dominant hemisphere visualization - i.e., constructed imagery and visual fantasy (Vc).

So my interpretation of my experience in terms of the above would be:

When I imaginatively reconstruct my body as a mental image, my inner gaze is upwards and to the right.

  • the upwards would explain why I visualise my feet slightly forward of my physical body
  • the to the right would explain why I visualise my feet rotated slightly clockwise with respect to my physical body

Does anyone have any views that would confirm this ?

  • $\begingroup$ Parietal lobe is generally responsible for the perception of the body space. There are some conditions in which people perceive their body spaces differently. Also read about phantom limbs. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Aug 3 '16 at 16:53