Multiple Spatial Representations for Haptic Perception

Tamè, Luigi (2010) Multiple Spatial Representations for Haptic Perception. PhD thesis, University of Trento, Center for Mind Brain Sciences.

PDF (Multiple spatial representation for haptic perception) - Doctoral Thesis


In everyday life, our body gets in contact with multiple tactile stimuli from the outside world. How our somatosensory system identifies and localises these multiple stimuli entering in contact with our body surface, is the general framework to which the researches of the present thesis belong. Tactile stimuli on our body can be spatially coded and represented by using multiple reference frames. Touch is initially encoded into a sensory-space within primary somatosensory map and then further stages of processing can represent the location of tactile event with respect to the overall body structure (body-space) or to the outside world (external-space). In the present thesis we report first a series of behavioural experiments aimed at investigating which spatial reference frame is adopted in a special context of sensory stimulation, namely the double simultaneous stimulation (DSS). Then, we used functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) as a tool for delineating the neural bases of the cognitive processes sub-serving the elaboration and representation of concurrent stimuli for conscious tactile perception. In a first behavioural study using the tactile DSS paradigm, we defined the spatial coding used by observers when tactile stimuli are delivered with different fingers combinations (i.e., within vs. between hands) and hand postures (i.e., hands palm-down vs. palm-up). In a second behavioural work we tested the influence of different visual modulations (e.g., seeing body parts or objects) and visual-proprioceptive conflict (e.g., seeing body parts in a different position with respect to one adopted by the participant) on the spatial representation of touch. Furthermore, we investigated the effect of changes to the visual structural morphology of a body part on the spatial representation of touch. Finally, using a fMRI adaptation paradigm for touches at the fingers, we aimed to define the neural bases of tactile perception in a repeated stimulations context. In particular, we assessed the mutual interaction between tactile stimuli located at body parts that are clearly distinct in terms of the body-space (e.g., left and right index fingers), but proximal in terms of neural representations (due to some bilateral responses of the somatosensory cortices).

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Cognitive and Brain Sciences
PhD Cycle:XXII
Subjects:Area 11 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche > M-PSI/01 PSICOLOGIA GENERALE
Repository Staff approval on:25 Jan 2010 14:23

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