Vision of the body and the differentiation of perceived body side in touch
Tamè, L., Farnè, A. and Pavani, F. (2013) Vision of the body and the differentiation of perceived body side in touch. Cortex, 49 (5). pp. 1340-1351. ISSN 0010-9452
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2012.03.016
Although tactile representations of the two body sides are initially segregated into opposite hemispheres of the brain, behavioural interactions between body sides exist and can be revealed under conditions of tactile double simultaneous stimulation (DSS) at the hands. Here we examined to what extent vision can affect body side segregation in touch. To this aim, we changed hand-related visual input while participants performed a go/no-go task to detect a tactile stimulus delivered to one target finger (e.g., right index), stimulated alone or with a concurrent non-target finger either on the same hand (e.g., right middle finger) or on the other hand (e.g., left index finger = homologous; left middle finger = non-homologous). Across experiments, the two hands were visible or occluded from view (Experiment 1), images of the two hands were either merged using a morphing technique (Experiment 2), or were shown in a compatible vs incompatible position with respect to the actual posture (Experiment 3). Overall, the results showed reliable interference effects of DSS, as compared to target-only stimulation. This interference varied as a function of which non-target finger was stimulated, and emerged both within and between hands. These results imply that the competition between tactile events is not clearly segregated across body sides. Crucially, non-informative vision of the hand affected overall tactile performance only when a visual/proprioceptive conflict was present, while neither congruent nor morphed hand vision affected tactile DSS interference. This suggests that DSS operates at a tactile processing stage in which interactions between body sides can occur regardless of the available visual input from the body.