Auditory cues for somatosensory targets invoke visuomotor transformations: Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence


  • Manson Gerome
  • Tremblay Luc
  • Lebar Nicolas
  • de Grosbois John
  • Mouchnino Laurence
  • Blouin Jean


  • Vision
  • Visual-evoked potentials
  • Reaction time
  • Somatosensory system
  • Hands
  • Sensory cues
  • Fingers
  • Attention

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Prior to goal-directed actions, somatosensory target positions can be localized using either an exteroceptive or an interoceptive body representation. The goal of the present study was to investigate if the body representation selected to plan reaches to somatosensory targets is influenced by the sensory modality of the cue indicating the target's location. In the first experiment, participants reached to somatosensory targets prompted by either an auditory or a vibrotactile cue. As a baseline condition, participants also performed reaches to visual targets prompted by an auditory cue. Gaze-dependent reaching errors were measured to determine the contribution of the exteroceptive representation to motor planning processes. The results showed that reaches to both auditory-cued somatosensory targets and auditory -cued visual targets exhibited larger gaze-dependent reaching errors than reaches to vibrotactile-cued somatosensory targets. Thus, an exteroceptive body representation was likely used to plan reaches to auditory-cued somatosensory targets but not to vibrotactile-cued somatosensory targets. The second experiment examined the influence of using an exteroceptive body representation to plan movements to somatosensory targets on pre-movement neural activations. Cortical responses to a task-irrelevant visual flash were measured as participants planned movements to either auditory-cued somatosensory or auditory -cued visual targets. Larger responses (i.e., visual-evoked potentials) were found when participants planned movements to somatosensory vs. visual targets, and source analyses revealed that these activities were localized to the left occipital and left posterior parietal areas. These results suggest that visual and visuomotor processing networks were more engaged when using the exteroceptive body representation to plan movements to somato-sensory targets, than when planning movements to external visual targets.

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