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Full Access Effects of a secondary task and working memory load on multisensory hand position

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Effects of a secondary task and working memory load on multisensory hand position

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For more content, see Multisensory Research and Spatial Vision.

Information about where our hands are arises from different sensory modalities; chiefly proprioception and vision. These inputs differ in variability from situation to situation (or task to task). According to the idea of ‘optimal integration’, the information provided by different sources is combined in proportion to their relative reliabilities, thus maximizing the reliability of the combined estimate. It is uncertain whether optimal multisensory integration of multisensory contributions to limb position requires executive resources. If so, then it should be possible to observe effects of secondary task performance and/or working memory load (WML) on the relative weighting of the senses under conditions of crossmodal sensory conflict. Alternatively, an integrated signal may be affected by upstream influences of WML or a secondary task on the reliabilities of the individual sensory inputs. We examine these possibilities in two experiments which examine effects of WML on reaching tasks in which bisensory visual-proprioceptive (Exp. 1), and unisensory proprioceptive (Exp. 2) cues to hand position are provided. WML increased visual capture under conditions of visual-proprioceptive conflict, regardless of the direction of visual-proprioceptive conflict, and the degree of load imposed. This indicates that task-switching (rather than WML load) leads to an increased reliance on visual information regardless of its task-specific reliability (Exp. 1). This could not be explained due to an increase in the variability of proprioception under secondary working memory task conditions (Exp. 2). We conclude that executive resources are involved in the relative weighting of visual and proprioceptive cues to hand position.

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, GB; 2: 2University College London, GB; 3: 3Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, GB

Information about where our hands are arises from different sensory modalities; chiefly proprioception and vision. These inputs differ in variability from situation to situation (or task to task). According to the idea of ‘optimal integration’, the information provided by different sources is combined in proportion to their relative reliabilities, thus maximizing the reliability of the combined estimate. It is uncertain whether optimal multisensory integration of multisensory contributions to limb position requires executive resources. If so, then it should be possible to observe effects of secondary task performance and/or working memory load (WML) on the relative weighting of the senses under conditions of crossmodal sensory conflict. Alternatively, an integrated signal may be affected by upstream influences of WML or a secondary task on the reliabilities of the individual sensory inputs. We examine these possibilities in two experiments which examine effects of WML on reaching tasks in which bisensory visual-proprioceptive (Exp. 1), and unisensory proprioceptive (Exp. 2) cues to hand position are provided. WML increased visual capture under conditions of visual-proprioceptive conflict, regardless of the direction of visual-proprioceptive conflict, and the degree of load imposed. This indicates that task-switching (rather than WML load) leads to an increased reliance on visual information regardless of its task-specific reliability (Exp. 1). This could not be explained due to an increase in the variability of proprioception under secondary working memory task conditions (Exp. 2). We conclude that executive resources are involved in the relative weighting of visual and proprioceptive cues to hand position.

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/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x646794
2012-01-01
2016-12-10

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