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    Rapid enhancement of touch from non-informative vision of the hand

    Cardini, F. and Longo, Matthew R. and Driver, J. and Haggard, P. (2012) Rapid enhancement of touch from non-informative vision of the hand. Neuropsychologia 50 (8), pp. 1954-1960. ISSN 0028-3932.

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    Processing in one sensory modality may modulate processing in another. Here we investigate how simply viewing the hand can influence the sense of touch. Previous studies showed that non-informative vision of the hand enhances tactile acuity, relative to viewing an object at the same location. However, it remains unclear whether this Visual Enhancement of Touch (VET) involves a phasic enhancement of tactile processing circuits triggered by the visual event of seeing the hand, or more prolonged, tonic neuroplastic changes, such as recruitment of additional cortical areas for tactile processing. We recorded somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) evoked by electrical stimulation of the right middle finger, both before and shortly after viewing either the right hand, or a neutral object presented via a mirror. Crucially, and unlike prior studies, our visual exposures were unpredictable and brief, in addition to being non-informative about touch. Viewing the hand, as opposed to viewing an object, enhanced tactile spatial discrimination measured using grating orientation judgements, and also the P50 SEP component, which has been linked to early somatosensory cortical processing. This was a trial-specific, phasic effect, occurring within a few seconds of each visual onset, rather than an accumulating, tonic effect. Thus, somatosensory cortical modulation can be triggered even by a brief, non-informative glimpse of one’s hand. Such rapid multisensory modulation reveals novel aspects of the specialised brain systems for functionally representing the body.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: “NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Neuropsychologia. 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 will be subsequently published in Neuropsychologia, 2012,”
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Event related potentials, Multisensory interaction, Somatosensory processing, Visual enhancement of touch
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Matthew Longo
    Date Deposited: 04 May 2012 13:31
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 16:57


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