Tool use modulates early stages of visuo-tactile integration in far space: Evidence from event-related potentials

Alicia Forsberg, Alan O'Dowd, Elena Gherri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The neural representation of multisensory space near the body is modulated by the active use of long tools in non-human primates. Here, we investigated whether the electrophysiological correlates of visuo-tactile integration in near and far space were modulated by active tool use in healthy humans. Participants responded to a tactile target delivered to one hand while an irrelevant visual stimulus was presented ipsilaterally in near or far space. This crossmodal task was performed after the use of either short or long tools. Crucially, the P100 components elicited by visuo-tactile stimuli was enhanced on far as compared to near space trials after the use of long tools, while no such difference was present after short tool use. Thus, we found increased neural responses in brain areas encoding tactile stimuli to the body when visual stimuli were presented close to the tip of the tool after long tool use. This increased visuo-tactile integration on far space trials following the use of long tools might indicate a transient remapping of multisensory space. We speculate that performing voluntary actions with long tools strengthens the representation of sensory information arising within portions of space (i.e. the hand and the tip of the tool) that are most functionally relevant to one’s behavioural goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-54
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume145
Early online date7 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2019

Keywords

  • visuo-tactile integration
  • near/far space
  • tool use
  • event-related potentials

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