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Exp Brain Res. 2006 Oct;174(3):435-42. Epub 2006 May 11.

Transfer of learned perception of sensorimotor simultaneity.

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Department of Neurobiology and Brain Research Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1763, USA.


Synchronizing a motor response to a predictable sensory stimulus, like a periodic flash or click, relies on feedback (somesthetic, auditory, visual, or other) from the motor response. Practically, this results in a small (<50 ms) asynchrony in which the motor response leads the sensory event. Here we show that the perceived simultaneity in a coincidence-anticipation task (line crossing) is affected by changing the perceived simultaneity in a different task (pacing). In the pace task, human subjects were instructed to press a key in perfect synchrony with a red square flashed every second. In training sessions, feedback was provided by flashing a blue square with each key press, below the red square. There were two types of training pace sessions: one in which the feedback was provided with no delay, the other (adapting), in which the feedback was progressively delayed (up to 100 ms). Subjects' asynchrony was unchanged in the first case, but it was significantly increased in the pace task with delay. In the coincidence-anticipation task, a horizontally moving vertical bar crossed a vertical line in the middle of a screen. Subjects were instructed to press a key exactly when the bar crossed the line. They were given no feedback on their performance. Asynchrony on the line-crossing task was tested after the training pace task with feedback. We found that this asynchrony to be significantly increased even though there never was any feedback on the coincidence-anticipation task itself. Subjects were not aware that their sensorimotor asynchrony had been lengthened (sometimes doubled). We conclude that perception of simultaneity in a sensorimotor task is learned. If this perception is caused by coincidence of signals in the brain, the timing of these signals depends on something-acquired by experience-more adaptable than physiological latencies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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