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Differential Contributions of Vision, Touch and Muscle Proprioception to the Coding of Hand Movements

Abstract : To further elucidate the mechanisms underlying multisensory integration, this study examines the controversial issue of whether congruent inputs from three different sensory sources can enhance the perception of hand movement. Illusory sensations of clockwise rotations of the right hand were induced by either separately or simultaneously stimulating visual, tactile and muscle proprioceptive channels at various intensity levels. For this purpose, mechanical vibrations were applied to the pollicis longus muscle group in the subjects' wrists, and a textured disk was rotated under the palmar skin of the subjects' right hands while a background visual scene was projected onto the rotating disk. The elicited kinaesthetic illusions were copied by the subjects in real time and the EMG activity in the adductor and abductor wrist muscles was recorded. The results show that the velocity of the perceived movements and the amplitude of the corresponding motor responses were modulated by the nature and intensity of the stimulation. Combining two sensory modalities resulted in faster movement illusions, except for the case of visuo-tactile co-stimulation. When a third sensory input was added to the bimodal combinations, the perceptual responses increased only when a muscle proprioceptive stimulation was added to a visuo-tactile combination. Otherwise, trisensory stimulation did not override bimodal conditions that already included a muscle proprioceptive stimulation. We confirmed that vision or touch alone can encode the kinematic parameters of hand movement, as is known for muscle proprioception. When these three sensory modalities are available, they contribute unequally to kinaesthesia. In addition to muscle proprioception, the complementary kinaesthetic content of visual or tactile inputs may optimize the velocity estimation of an on-going movement, whereas the redundant kinaesthetic content of the visual and tactile inputs may rather enhance the latency of the perception.
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Caroline Blanchard, Régine Roll, Jean-Pierre Roll, Anne Kavounoudias. Differential Contributions of Vision, Touch and Muscle Proprioception to the Coding of Hand Movements. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2013, 8 (4), pp.62475 - 62475. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0062475⟩. ⟨hal-01437964⟩

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