The localisation of tactile stimuli requires the integration of visual and somatosensory inputs within an internal representation of the body surface and is prone to consistent bias. Joints may play a role in segmenting such internal body representations, and may therefore influence tactile localisation biases, although the nature of this influence remains unclear. Here, we investigate the relationship between conceptual knowledge of joint locations and tactile localisation biases on the hand. In one task, participants localised tactile stimuli applied to the dorsum of their hand. A distal localisation bias was observed in all participants, consistent with previous results. We also manipulated the availability of visual information during this task, to determine whether the absence of this information could account for the distal bias observed here and by Mancini et al. (Neuropsychologia 49:1194–1201, 2011). The observed distal bias increased in magnitude when visual information was restricted, without a corresponding decrease in precision. In a separate task, the same participants indicated, from memory, knuckle locations on a silhouette image of their hand. Analogous distal biases were also seen in the knuckle localisation task. The accuracy of conceptual joint knowledge was not correlated with tactile localisation bias magnitude, although a similarity in observed bias direction suggests that both tasks may rely on a common, higher-order body representation. These results also suggest that distortions of conceptual body representation may be more common in healthy individuals than previously thought.
Touch Tactile localisation Body representation
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
This research was supported by a Grant from the European Research Council (ERC-2013-StG-336050) to MRL.
Alloway KD, Rosenthal P, Burton H (1989) Quantitative measurements of receptive field changes during antagonism of GABAergic transmission in primary somatosensory cortex of cats. Exp Brain Res 78:514–532PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Azañón E, Longo MR, Soto-Faraco S, Haggard P (2010) The posterior parietal cortex remaps touch into external space. Curr Biol 20:1304–1309PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Batschelet E (1981) Circular statistics in biology. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
Berens P (2009) CircStat: a MATLAB toolbox for circular statistics. J Stat Softw 31:1–21Google Scholar
Bookstein FL (1991) Morphometric tools for landmark data. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
Boring EG (1942) Sensation and perception in the history of experimental psychology. Appleton-Century, New YorkGoogle Scholar
Brooks VB, Rudomin P, Slayman CL (1961) Peripheral receptive fields of neurons in the cat’s cerebral cortex. J Neurophysiol 24:302–325Google Scholar
Buxbaum LJ, Coslett HB (2001) Specialized structural descriptions for human body parts: evidence from autotopagnosia. Cogn Neuropsychol 18:289–306PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cash TF, Deagle EA III (1997) The nature and extent of body-image disturbances in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: a meta-analysis. Int J Eat Disord 22:107–125PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cholewiak RW, Collins AA (2003) Vibrotactile localization on the arm: effects of place, space and age. Percept Psychophys 65:1058–1077PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cholewiak RW, Brill JC, Schwab A (2004) Vibrotactile localization on the abdomen: effects of place and space. Percept Psychophys 66:970–987PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cody FW, Garside RA, Lloyd D, Poliakoff E (2008) Tactile spatial acuity varies with site and axis in the human upper limb. Neurosci Lett 433:103–108PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Critchley M (1953) The parietal lobes. Edward Arnold & Co, LondonGoogle Scholar
Pritchett LM, Carnevale MJ, Harris LR (2012) Reference frames for coding touch location depend on the task. Exp Brain Res 222:437–445PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sirigu A, Grafman J, Bressler K, Sunderland T (1991) Multiple representations contribute to body knowledge processing. Brain 114:629–642PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steenbergen P, Buitenweg JR, Trojan J, Klaassen B, Veltink PH (2012) Subject-level differences in reported locations of cutaneous tactile and nociceptive stimuli. Front Hum Neurosci 6:325PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Trojan J, Kleinböhl D, Stolle AM, Andersen OK, Hölzl R, Arendt-Nielsen L (2006) Psychophysical ‘perceptual maps’ of heat and pain sensations by direct localization of CO2 laser stimuli on the skin. Brain Res 1120:106–113PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weber EH (1834/1996) De subtilitate tactus (H. E. Ross, Trans.). In: Ross HE, Murray DJ (eds) E. H. Weber on the tactile senses, 2nd edn (pp 21–128). Academic Press, London, pp 21–128Google Scholar