Visuotactile learning and body representation: an ERP study with rubber hands and rubber objects
Press, C., Heyes, C., Haggard, P. and Eimer, M. (2008) Visuotactile learning and body representation: an ERP study with rubber hands and rubber objects. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20 (2). pp. 312-323. ISSN 0898-929X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1162/jocn.2008.20022
We studied how the integration of seen and felt tactile stimulation modulates somatosensory processing, and investigated whether visuotactile integration depends on temporal contiguity of stimulation, and its coherence with a pre-existing body representation. During training, participants viewed a rubber hand or a rubber object that was tapped either synchronously with stimulation of their own hand, or in an uncorrelated fashion. In a subsequent test phase, somatosensory event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded to tactile stimulation of the left or right hand, to assess how tactile processing was affected by previous visuotactile experience during training. An enhanced somatosensory N140 component was elicited after synchronous, compared with uncorrelated, visuotactile training, irrespective of whether participants viewed a rubber hand or rubber object. This early effect of visuotactile integration on somatosensory processing is interpreted as a candidate electrophysiological correlate of the rubber hand illusion that is determined by temporal contiguity, but not by pre-existing body representations. ERPmodulations were observed beyond 200msec post-stimulus, suggesting an attentional bias induced by visuotactile training. These late modulations were absent when the stimulation of a rubber hand and the participant’s own hand was uncorrelated during training, suggesting that pre-existing body representations may affect later stages of tactile processing.