Neural correlates of tactile perception during pre-, peri-, and post-movement
Tactile information is differentially processed over the various phases of goal-directed movements. Here, event-related potentials (ERPs) were used to investigate the neural correlates of tactile and visual information processing during movement. Participants performed goal-directed reaches for an object placed centrally on the table in front of them. Tactile and visual stimulation (100 ms) was presented in separate trials during the different phases of the movement (i.e. preparation, execution, and post-movement). These stimuli were independently delivered to either the moving or resting hand. In a control condition, the participants only performed the movement, while omission (i.e. movement-only) ERPs were recorded. Participants were instructed to ignore the presence or absence of any sensory events and to concentrate solely on the execution of the movement. Enhanced ERPs were observed 80–200 ms after tactile stimulation, as well as 100–250 ms after visual stimulation: These modulations were greatest during the execution of the goal-directed movement, and they were effector based (i.e. significantly more negative for stimuli presented to the moving hand). Furthermore, ERPs revealed enhanced sensory processing during goal-directed movements for visual stimuli as well. Such enhanced processing of both tactile and visual information during the execution phase suggests that incoming sensory information is continuously monitored for a potential adjustment of the current motor plan. Furthermore, the results reported here also highlight a tight coupling between spatial attention and the execution of motor actions.