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Salience-driven overestimation of total somatosensory stimulation

Walsh, L; Critchlow, J; Beck, B; Cataldo, A; de Boer, L; Haggard, P; (2016) Salience-driven overestimation of total somatosensory stimulation. Cognition , 154 pp. 118-129. 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.05.006. Green open access

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Abstract

Psychological characterisation of sensory systems often focusses on minimal units of perception, such as thresholds, acuity, selectivity and precision. Research on how these units are aggregated to create integrated, synthetic experiences is rarer. We investigated mechanisms of somatosensory integration by asking volunteers to judge the total intensity of stimuli delivered to two fingers simultaneously. Across four experiments, covering physiological pathways for tactile, cold and warm stimuli, we found that judgements of total intensity were particularly poor when the two simultaneous stimuli had different intensities. Total intensity of discrepant stimuli was systematically overestimated. This bias was absent when the two stimulated digits were on different hands. Taken together, our results showed that the weaker stimulus of a discrepant pair was not extinguished, but contributed less to the perception of the total than the stronger stimulus. Thus, perception of somatosensory totals is biased towards the most salient element. 'Peak' biases in human judgements are well-known, particularly in affective experience. We show that a similar mechanism also influences sensory experience.

Type: Article
Title: Salience-driven overestimation of total somatosensory stimulation
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.05.006
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.05.006
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Perceptual integration, Salience, Somatosensory aggregation, Tactile, Thermal
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/1499911
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