Gating of vibrotactile detection during visually guided bimanual reaches
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It is far more difficult to detect a small tactile stimulation on a finger that is moving compared to when it is static. This suppression of tactile information during motion, known as tactile gating, has been examined in some detail during single-joint movements. However, the existence and time course of this gating has yet to be examined during visually guided multi-joint reaches, where sensory feedback may be paramount. The current study demonstrated that neurologically intact humans are unable to detect a small vibratory stimulus on one of their index fingers during a bimanual reach toward visual targets. By parametrically altering the delay between the visual target onset and the vibration, it was demonstrated that this gating was even apparent before participants started moving. A follow up experiment using electromyography indicated that gating was likely to occur even before muscle activity had taken place. This unique demonstration of tactile gating during a task reliant on visual feedback supports the notion this phenomenon is due to a central command, rather than a masking of sensory signals by afferent processing during movement.
KeywordsTactile gating Bimanual reaching Multisensory integration Perception and action
The authors would like to thank Dr. Matt Heath for his thought-provoking discussions on this topic. This work was supported by a 6th Century Ph.D. studentship from the College of Life Sciences and Medicine at the University of Aberdeen, and a postdoctoral research fellowship from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) Canada, awarded to G Buckingham. G Binsted was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
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