Electrotactile stimuli delivered across fingertips inducing the Cutaneous Rabbit Effect
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Previous studies have been unable to induce the Cutaneous Rabbit Effect (CRE) when the most likely perceived location of the illusory stimulus is on a non-continuous skin area. To determine whether the CRE could be elicited when each of the delivered stimuli were on non-continuous skin areas, we developed a new electrotactile stimulation paradigm attempting to induce the CRE across the fingertips. Though our stimulation paradigm differed from classic reduced CRE paradigms through the use of electrotactile stimuli, focusing the subject attention to a ‘likely’ illusory site, and the inclusion of a fourth stimulation site (two stimuli after the illusory stimulus), these factors were not the cause of the illusory effect we observed. Experiments conducted on the forearm validated that our paradigm elicited similar results to those reported in previous CRE studies that used either 3-stimulation-point mechanical or electrotactile stimuli with subject attention focused on the ‘likely’ illusory site. Across the fingertips, we observed an increase in stimulus mislocalization onto the middle fingertip, the ‘likely’ perceived location of the illusory stimuli, under Illusory Rabbit Trains compared to the Motion Bias Trains. Because the Motion Bias Trains should not induce a perceived location shift of the illusory stimulus but stimulates the adjacent digits in a similar way to the Illusory Rabbit Trains, differences observed between their mislocalization rates between these trains indicate that the CRE can be induced across the fingertips. These results provide the first evidence that the CRE can ‘jump’ when the stimuli occur across non-continuous skin areas.
KeywordsCutaneous Rabbit Effect Electrotactile Electrocutaneous Tactile illusion Fingertips
The authors would like to thank the members of the SensoriMotor Research Group and the Neural Control of Movement Laboratory at Arizona State University for their aid in designing the experimental protocol. This research was funded by the National Institute of Health, R01 NS050256.
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