Proprioceptive illusions created by vibration of one arm are altered by vibrating the other arm
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There is some evidence that signals coming from both arms are used to determine the perceived position and movement of one arm. We examined whether the sense of position and movement of one (reference) arm is altered by increases in muscle spindle signals in the other (indicator) arm in blindfolded participants (n = 26). To increase muscle spindle discharge, we applied 70–80 Hz muscle vibration to the elbow flexors of the indicator arm. In a first experiment, proprioceptive illusions in the vibrated reference arm in a forearm position-matching task were compared between conditions in which the indicator arm elbow flexors were vibrated or not vibrated. We found that the vibration illusion of arm extension induced by vibration of reference arm elbow flexors was reduced in the presence of vibration of the indicator elbow flexors. In a second experiment, participants were asked to describe their perception of the illusion of forearm extension movements of the reference arm evoked by vibration of reference arm elbow flexors in response to on/off and off/on transitions of vibration of non-reference arm elbow flexors. When vibration of non-reference arm elbow flexors was turned on, they reported a sensation of slowing down of the illusion of the reference arm. When it was turned off, they reported a sensation of speeding up. To conclude, the present study shows that both the sense of limb position and the sense of limb movement of one arm are dependent to some extent on spindle signals coming from the other arm.