These pictures illustrate macrosomatognosia, the condition in which abnormal activity in the somatosensory regions of the brain causes one to perceive the body, or parts of it, to be abnormally large.
Both pictures are representations of partial macrosomatognosia, in which specific parts of the body are affected. They were drawn by artists who experience migraines, and were submitted as entries to the Migraine Art Competition.
The picture on the left shows the migraine sufferer lying on a bed, with elongated hand, arms and neck, and an enlarged head that appears to be floating up towards the ceiling. The artist provides a description of the sensation:
My head seemed very large and situated near the ceiling, looking down on a tiny body (my own) on the bed. The head was always connected with the body but somehow remote from it. It felt as if I was looking through a telescope the wrong way round.
On the right is an illustration of macrosomatognosia of both arms and hands, drawn by a school teacher who experienced a migraine during a class:
I would see that some of the pupils were laughing at me and I would realize that I was speaking complete rubbish. In addition to that, my arms and hands had dramatically increased in size. My hands, which I could see as normal size, holding an exercise-book, nevertheless felt huge and my arms nearly reached the floor. I kept looking to make sure they weren’t as I felt!
According to one study which involved an assessment of more than 500 entries to the Migraine Art Competition (referenced below), total body microsomatognosia is more prevalent than total body macrosomatognosia, but partial macrosomatognosia is more prevalent than partial microsomatognosia.
In the case of partial macrosomatognosia, the frequency with which different parts of the body are affected appears to be directly related to the amount of somatosensory cortical tissue devoted to that part of the body. Hence, the head and hands are the parts of the body most frequently described as being banormally large.
Both conditions are rare, even as symptoms of migraine aura. They can sometimes be experienced during hypnagogic hallucinations (which sometimes occur when one is falling asleep) and during intoxication with LSD.
Podoll, K. & Robinson, D. (2000). Macrosomatognosia and microsomatognosia in migraine art. Acta Neurol. Scan. 101: 413-416.