Relative contributions of visual and auditory spatial representations to tactile localization.

Noel JP, Wallace M
Neuropsychologia. 2016 82: 84-90

PMID: 26768124 · PMCID: PMC4752883 · DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.01.005

Spatial localization of touch is critically dependent upon coordinate transformation between different reference frames, which must ultimately allow for alignment between somatotopic and external representations of space. Although prior work has shown an important role for cues such as body posture in influencing the spatial localization of touch, the relative contributions of the different sensory systems to this process are unknown. In the current study, we had participants perform a tactile temporal order judgment (TOJ) under different body postures and conditions of sensory deprivation. Specifically, participants performed non-speeded judgments about the order of two tactile stimuli presented in rapid succession on their ankles during conditions in which their legs were either uncrossed or crossed (and thus bringing somatotopic and external reference frames into conflict). These judgments were made in the absence of 1) visual, 2) auditory, or 3) combined audio-visual spatial information by blindfolding and/or placing participants in an anechoic chamber. As expected, results revealed that tactile temporal acuity was poorer under crossed than uncrossed leg postures. Intriguingly, results also revealed that auditory and audio-visual deprivation exacerbated the difference in tactile temporal acuity between uncrossed to crossed leg postures, an effect not seen for visual-only deprivation. Furthermore, the effects under combined audio-visual deprivation were greater than those seen for auditory deprivation. Collectively, these results indicate that mechanisms governing the alignment between somatotopic and external reference frames extend beyond those imposed by body posture to include spatial features conveyed by the auditory and visual modalities - with a heavier weighting of auditory than visual spatial information. Thus, sensory modalities conveying exteroceptive spatial information contribute to judgments regarding the localization of touch.

Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

MeSH Terms (12)

Acoustic Stimulation Adult Female Humans Judgment Male Photic Stimulation Physical Stimulation Posture Spatial Processing Touch Perception Young Adult

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