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Elife. 2019 Nov 18;8. pii: e42888. doi: 10.7554/eLife.42888.

Rapid learning and unlearning of predicted sensory delays in self-generated touch.

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Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Self-generated touch feels less intense and less ticklish than identical externally generated touch. This somatosensory attenuation occurs because the brain predicts the tactile consequences of our self-generated movements. To produce attenuation, the tactile predictions need to be time-locked to the movement, but how the brain maintains this temporal tuning remains unknown. Using a bimanual self-touch paradigm, we demonstrate that people can rapidly unlearn to attenuate touch immediately after their movement and learn to attenuate delayed touch instead, after repeated exposure to a systematic delay between the movement and the resulting touch. The magnitudes of the unlearning and learning effects are correlated and dependent on the number of trials that participants have been exposed to. We further show that delayed touches feel less ticklish and non-delayed touches more ticklish after exposure to the systematic delay. These findings demonstrate that the attenuation of self-generated touch is adaptive.


forward models; human; motor learning; neuroscience; prediction errors; sensorimotor delays; somatosensory attenuation; tickling

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