Gating of Vibrotactile Detection during Visually Guided Bimanual Reaches
Experimental Brain Research
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It is far more difficult to detect a small tactile stimulation on a finger that is moving compared to when it is static. This suppression of tactile information during motion, known as tactile gating, has been examined in some detail during single-joint movements. However, the existence and time course of this gating has yet to be examined during visually guided multi-joint reaches, where sensory feedback may be paramount. The current study demonstrated that neurologically intact humans are unable to detect a small vibratory stimulus on one of their index fingers during a bimanual reach toward visual targets. By parametrically altering the delay between the visual target onset and the vibration, it was demonstrated that this gating was even apparent before participants started moving. A follow up experiment using electromyography indicated that gating was likely to occur even before muscle activity had taken place. This unique demonstration of tactile gating during a task reliant on visual feedback supports the notion this phenomenon is due to a central command, rather than a masking of sensory signals by afferent processing during movement.