Recent studies have suggested that the location of tactile stimuli is automatically recoded from anatomical into external coordinates, independent of the task requirements. However, research has mainly involved the two hands, which may not be representative for the whole body because they are excessively used for the visually guided manipulation of objects and tools. We recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) while participants received tactile stimuli to the hands and feet, but attended only one limb. The hands were placed near the feet either in an uncrossed or a crossed posture, thus varying the spatial distance of each hand from each foot. Centro-parietal ERPs 100–140 msec poststimulus were more positive when stimulating the anatomically same-side hand while attending a foot. They were also more positive when the Euclidean distance between the stimulated hand and the attended foot was small rather than large. When a foot was stimulated and a hand attended, a similar modulation of foot ERPs was observed for the right foot. To assess the spatial distance between two limbs in space, the external location of both must be known. The present ERP results therefore suggest that not only the hands but also other body parts are remapped into external coordinates. The use of both anatomical and external coordinates may facilitate the control of actions toward tactile events and the choice of the most suitable effector.

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