Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 206, Issue 3, pp 299–310 | Cite as

Tactile suppression of displacement

  • Mounia ZiatEmail author
  • Vincent Hayward
  • C. Elaine Chapman
  • Marc O. Ernst
  • Charles Lenay
Research Article


In vision, the discovery of the phenomenon of saccadic suppression of displacement has made important contributions to the understanding of the stable world problem. Here, we report a similar phenomenon in the tactile modality. When scanning a single Braille dot with two fingers of the same hand, participants were asked to decide whether the dot was stationary or whether it was displaced from one location to another. The stimulus was produced by refreshable Braille devices that have dots that can be swiftly raised and recessed. In some conditions, the dot was stationary. In others, a displacement was created by monitoring the participant’s finger position and by switching the dot activation when it was not touched by either finger. The dot displacement was of either 2.5 mm or 5 mm. We found that in certain cases, displaced dots were felt to be stationary. If the displacement was orthogonal to the finger movements, tactile suppression occurred effectively when it was of 2.5 mm, but when the displacement was of 5 mm, the participants easily detected it. If the displacement was medial–lateral, the suppression effect occurred as well, but less often when the apparent movement of the dot opposed the movement of the finger. In such cases, the stimulus appeared sooner than when the brain could predict it from finger movement, supporting a predictive rather than a postdictive differential processing hypothesis.


Tactile suppression effects Stable world problem Suppression of displacement Tactile perception 



Special thanks to Dominique Aubert for help with the software. This research was supported by a Special Research Opportunity Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mounia Ziat
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vincent Hayward
    • 2
  • C. Elaine Chapman
    • 3
  • Marc O. Ernst
    • 4
  • Charles Lenay
    • 5
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Institut des Systèmes Intelligents et de RobotiqueUPMC Univ Paris 06ParisFrance
  3. 3.Groupe de recherche sur le système nerveux central, École de réadaptation et de PhysiologieUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada
  4. 4.Max-Planck-Institut für biologische KybernetikTübingenGermany
  5. 5.Technologie et Sciences de l’HommeUniversité de Technologie de CompiègneCompiègneFrance

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