Task demands affect spatial reference frame weighting during tactile localization in sighted and congenitally blind adults

Schubert JTW, Badde S, Röder B, Heed T (2017)
PLOS ONE 12(12): e0189067.

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Task demands modulate tactile localization in sighted humans, presumably through weight adjustments in the spatial integration of anatomical, skin-based, and external, posture-based information. In contrast, previous studies have suggested that congenitally blind humans, by default, refrain from automatic spatial integration and localize touch using only skin-based information. Here, sighted and congenitally blind participants localized tactile targets on the palm or back of one hand, while ignoring simultaneous tactile distractors at congruent or incongruent locations on the other hand. We probed the interplay of anatomical and external location codes for spatial congruency effects by varying hand posture: the palms either both faced down, or one faced down and one up. In the latter posture, externally congruent target and distractor locations were anatomically incongruent and vice versa. Target locations had to be reported either anatomically (“palm” or “back” of the hand), or externally (“up” or “down” in space). Under anatomical instructions, performance was more accurate for anatomically congruent than incongruent target-distractor pairs. In contrast, under external instructions, performance was more accurate for externally congruent than incongruent pairs. These modulations were evident in sighted and blind individuals. Notably, distractor effects were overall far smaller in blind than in sighted participants, despite comparable target-distractor identification performance. Thus, the absence of developmental vision seems to be associated with an increased ability to focus tactile attention towards a non-spatially defined target. Nevertheless, that blind individuals exhibited effects of hand posture and task instructions in their congruency effects suggests that, like the sighted, they automatically integrate anatomical and external information during tactile localization. Moreover, spatial integration in tactile processing is, thus, flexibly adapted by top-down information—here, task instruction—even in the absence of developmental vision.
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PLOS ONE
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12
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12
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e0189067
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Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Open Access Publication Fund of Bielefeld University.
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Schubert JTW, Badde S, Röder B, Heed T. Task demands affect spatial reference frame weighting during tactile localization in sighted and congenitally blind adults. PLOS ONE. 2017;12(12): e0189067.
Schubert, J. T. W., Badde, S., Röder, B., & Heed, T. (2017). Task demands affect spatial reference frame weighting during tactile localization in sighted and congenitally blind adults. PLOS ONE, 12(12), e0189067. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0189067
Schubert, J. T. W., Badde, S., Röder, B., and Heed, T. (2017). Task demands affect spatial reference frame weighting during tactile localization in sighted and congenitally blind adults. PLOS ONE 12:e0189067.
Schubert, J.T.W., et al., 2017. Task demands affect spatial reference frame weighting during tactile localization in sighted and congenitally blind adults. PLOS ONE, 12(12): e0189067.
J.T.W. Schubert, et al., “Task demands affect spatial reference frame weighting during tactile localization in sighted and congenitally blind adults”, PLOS ONE, vol. 12, 2017, : e0189067.
Schubert, J.T.W., Badde, S., Röder, B., Heed, T.: Task demands affect spatial reference frame weighting during tactile localization in sighted and congenitally blind adults. PLOS ONE. 12, : e0189067 (2017).
Schubert, Jonathan T. W., Badde, Stephanie, Röder, Brigitte, and Heed, Tobias. “Task demands affect spatial reference frame weighting during tactile localization in sighted and congenitally blind adults”. PLOS ONE 12.12 (2017): e0189067.
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