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Spatial specificity of tactile enhancement during reaching

Voudouris Dimitris; Fiehler Katja

Tactile signals on a hand that serves as movement goal are enhanced during movement planning and execution. Here, we examined how spatially specific tactile enhancement is when humans reach to their own static hand. Participants discriminated two brief and simultaneously presented tactile stimuli: a comparison stimulus on the left thumb or little finger from a reference stimulus on the sternum. Tactile stimuli were presented either during right-hand reaching towards the left thumb or little finger, or while holding both hands still (baseline). Consistent with our previous findings, stimuli on the left hand were perceived stronger during movement than baseline. However, tactile enhancement was not stronger when the stimuli were presented on the digit that served as reach target, thus the perception across the whole hand was uniformly enhanced. In experiment 2, we also presented stimuli on the upper arm in half of the trials to reduce the expectation of the stimulus location. Tactile stimuli on the target hand, but not on the upper arm, were generally enhanced, supporting the idea of a spatial gradient of tactile enhancement. Overall, our findings argue for low spatial specificity of tactile enhancement at movement-relevant body parts, here the target hand.

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