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Full Access Assessing the effects of posture changes in tactile remapping

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Assessing the effects of posture changes in tactile remapping

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During the apparently simple act of localizing a tactile event on the skin, the brain must realign spatial representations according to current body posture, from somatotopic (skin based) to externally based coordinates. Previous studies have highlighted the obligatory nature of this process which seems to be carried out every time a tactile event is felt, even when posture remains constant (Yamamoto and Kitazawa, 2001). Nonetheless, the way this system is modulated by continued adaptation to a static posture is still largely unknown. Here, we address the way posture changes affect the accuracy in which touch is remapped. Participants in our experiment were asked to compare the location of two tactile stimuli presented to either hand when posture of the limbs was frequently changed (crossed vs. uncrossed) or else, remained constant throughout an entire block. We found that frequent changes induces more errors when localizing touch using external space, even though proprioceptive signal decreases with time. Furthermore, the advantage of keeping the arms in a constant posture was observed in a trial by trial basis: in the interleaved condition, participants’ responses were more precise when the previous trial had been performed in the same position. Previous results suggest that remapping might take place using a canonical configuration of the hands (Azanon and Soto-Faraco, 2008; Yamamoto and Kitazawa, 2001). If this were the case, then a change of posture might require a new ‘remapping model’ to be activated, which might require some time. These results suggest that the remapping system can be quickly adapted, suggesting a certain amount of short term plasticity that allows for an adaptive use of postural information.

Affiliations: 1: 1Institute Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, UK; 2: 2Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK

During the apparently simple act of localizing a tactile event on the skin, the brain must realign spatial representations according to current body posture, from somatotopic (skin based) to externally based coordinates. Previous studies have highlighted the obligatory nature of this process which seems to be carried out every time a tactile event is felt, even when posture remains constant (Yamamoto and Kitazawa, 2001). Nonetheless, the way this system is modulated by continued adaptation to a static posture is still largely unknown. Here, we address the way posture changes affect the accuracy in which touch is remapped. Participants in our experiment were asked to compare the location of two tactile stimuli presented to either hand when posture of the limbs was frequently changed (crossed vs. uncrossed) or else, remained constant throughout an entire block. We found that frequent changes induces more errors when localizing touch using external space, even though proprioceptive signal decreases with time. Furthermore, the advantage of keeping the arms in a constant posture was observed in a trial by trial basis: in the interleaved condition, participants’ responses were more precise when the previous trial had been performed in the same position. Previous results suggest that remapping might take place using a canonical configuration of the hands (Azanon and Soto-Faraco, 2008; Yamamoto and Kitazawa, 2001). If this were the case, then a change of posture might require a new ‘remapping model’ to be activated, which might require some time. These results suggest that the remapping system can be quickly adapted, suggesting a certain amount of short term plasticity that allows for an adaptive use of postural information.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134808-000s0004
2013-05-16
2017-11-22

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