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Importance of Temporal Cues for Tactile Spatial-Frequency Discrimination

Summary: Importance of Temporal Cues for Tactile Spatial-
Frequency Discrimination
Efrat Gamzu and Ehud Ahissar
Department of Neurobiology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel
While scanning a textured surface with fingers, tactile informa-
tion is encoded both spatially, by differential activation of adja-
cent receptors, and temporally, by changes in receptor activa-
tion during movements of the fingers across the surface. We
used a tactile discrimination task to examine the dependence of
human tactile perception on the availability of spatial and tem-
poral cues. Subjects discriminated between spatial frequencies
of metal gratings presented simultaneously to both hands.
Tactile temporal cues were eliminated by preventing lateral
hand movements; tactile spatial cues were eliminated by using
gloves with an attached rubber pin. Analysis revealed separa-
tion of the subjects into two groups: "spatiotemporal" (ST) and
"latent-temporal" (LT). Under normal conditions, the perfor-
mance of ST subjects was significantly better than that of the LT
subjects. Prevention of lateral movements impaired perfor-
mance of both ST and LT subjects. However, when only tem-


Source: Ahissar, Ehud - Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science


Collections: Biology and Medicine