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Curr Biol. 2005 Jun 21;15(12):1125-8.

Perception of the consequences of self-action is temporally tuned and event driven.

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Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, University College London, Queen Square, London, WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom.


It has been proposed that in order to increase the salience of sensations with an external cause, sensations that are predictable based on one's own actions are attenuated [1 and 2]. This may explain why self-imposed tickle [3 and 4] or constant forces [5] are perceived as less intense than the same stimuli externally imposed. Here, subjects used their right index finger to tap a force sensor mounted above their left index finger. When a motor generated a tap on the left finger synchronously with the right tap, simulating contact between the fingers, the perception of force in the left finger was attenuated compared to the same tap experienced during rest. Attenuation gradually reduced as the left tap was either delayed or advanced relative to the active right tap. However, no attenuation was seen to left taps triggered by right-finger movements that stopped above or passed wide of the sensor. We conclude that there is a window of sensory attenuation that is broadly temporally tuned and centered on the time at which the fingers would normally make contact. That is, predictive tactile sensory attenuation is linked to specific external events arising from movement rather than to the movement per se.

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