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Dynamic tuning of tactile localization to body posture

Azañón, E; Stenner, MP; Cardini, F; Haggard, P; (2015) Dynamic tuning of tactile localization to body posture. Current Biology , 25 (4) 512 - 517. 10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.038. Green open access

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Abstract

Localizing touch in space is essential for goal-directed action. Because body posture changes, the brain must transform tactile coordinates from an initial skin-based representation to external space by integrating information about current posture. This process, referred to as tactile remapping, generally results in accurate localization, but accuracy drops when skin-based and external spatial representations of touch are conflicting, e.g., after crossing the limbs. Importantly, frequent experience of such postures can improve localization. This suggests that remapping may not only integrate current sensory input but also prior experience. Here, we demonstrate that this can result in rapid changes in localization performance over the course of few trials. We obtained an implicit measure of tactile localization by studying the perceived temporal order of two touches, one on each hand. Crucially, we varied the number of consecutive trials during which participants held their arms crossed or uncrossed. As expected, accuracy dropped immediately after the arms had been crossed. Importantly, this was followed by a progressive recovery if posture was maintained, despite the absence of performance feedback. Strikingly, a significant improvement was already evident in the localization of the second pair of touches. This rapid improvement required preceding touch in the same posture and did not occur merely as a function of time. Moreover, even touches that were not task relevant led to improved localization of subsequent touch. Our findings show that touches are mapped from skin to external space as a function of recent tactile experience.

Type: Article
Title: Dynamic tuning of tactile localization to body posture
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.038
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.038
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Current Biology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Current Biology. 25(4)2015 Feb 16; doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.038
Keywords: Tactile remapping, Spatial perception, Temporal order judgement, Crossed-hands deficit, Spatial frame of reference, Tactile localization.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1465408
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