Dynamic Sounds Capture the Boundaries of Peripersonal Space Representation in Humans

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Background: We physically interact with external stimuli when they occur within a limited space immediately surrounding the body, i.e., Peripersonal Space (PPS). In the primate brain, specific fronto-parietal areas are responsible for the multisensory representation of PPS, by integrating tactile, visual and auditory information occurring on and near the body. Dynamic stimuli are particularly relevant for PPS representation, as they might refer to potential harms approaching the body. However, behavioural tasks for studying PPS representation with moving stimuli are lacking. Here we propose a new dynamic audio-tactile interaction task in order to assess the extension of PPS in a more functionally and ecologically valid condition. Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants vocally responded to a tactile stimulus administered at the hand at different delays from the onset of task-irrelevant dynamic sounds which gave the impression of a sound source either approaching or receding from the subject's hand. Results showed that a moving auditory stimulus speeded up the processing of a tactile stimulus at the hand as long as it was perceived at a limited distance from the hand, that is within the boundaries of PPS representation. The audio-tactile interaction effect was stronger when sounds were approaching compared to when sounds were receding. Conclusion/Significance: This study provides a new method to dynamically assess PPS representation: The function describing the relationship between tactile processing and the position of sounds in space can be used to estimate the location of PPS boundaries, along a spatial continuum between far and near space, in a valuable and ecologically significant way. © 2012 Canzoneri et al.




Canzoneri, E., Magosso, E., & Serino, A. (2012). Dynamic Sounds Capture the Boundaries of Peripersonal Space Representation in Humans. PLoS ONE, 7(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044306

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