Using time to investigate space: A review of tactile temporal order judgments as a window onto spatial processing in touch

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Abstract

To respond to a touch, it is often necessary to localize it in space, and not just on the skin. The computation of this external spatial location involves the integration of somatosensation with visual and proprioceptive information about current body posture. In the past years, the study of touch localization has received substantial attention and has become a central topic in the research field of multisensory integration. In this review, we will explore important findings from this research, zooming in on one specific experimental paradigm, the temporal order judgment (TOJ) task, which has proven particularly fruitful for the investigation of tactile spatial processing. In a typical TOJ task participants perform non-speeded judgments about the order of two tactile stimuli presented in rapid succession to different skin sites. This task could be solved without relying on external spatial coordinates. However, postural manipulations affect TOJ performance, indicating that external coordinates are in fact computed automatically. We show that this makes the TOJ task a reliable indicator of spatial remapping, and provide an overview over the versatile analysis options for TOJ. We introduce current theories of TOJ and touch localization, and then relate TOJ to behavioral and electrophysiological evidence from other paradigms, probing the benefit of TOJ for the study of spatial processing as well as related topics such as multisensory plasticity, body processing, and pain. © 2014 Heed and Azañón.

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Heed, T., & Azañón, E. (2014). Using time to investigate space: A review of tactile temporal order judgments as a window onto spatial processing in touch. Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00076

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