Visuotactile Temporal Recalibration Transfers Across Different Locations

in Multisensory Research
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Following prolonged exposure to audiovisual asynchrony, an observer’s point of subjective simultaneity (PSS) shifts in the direction of the leading modality. It has been debated whether other sensory pairings, such as vision and touch, lead to a similar temporal recalibration, and if so, whether the internal timing mechanism underlying lag visuotactile adaptation is centralised or distributed. To address these questions, we adapted observers to vision- and tactile-leading visuotactile asynchrony on either their left or right hand side in different blocks. In one test condition, participants performed a simultaneity judgment on the adapted side (unilateral) and in another they performed a simultaneity judgment on the non-adapted side (contralateral). In a third condition, participants adapted concurrently to equal and opposite asynchronies on each side and were tested randomly on either hand (bilateral opposed). Results from the first two conditions show that observers recalibrate to visuotactile asynchronies, and that the recalibration transfers to the non-adapted side. These findings suggest a centralised recalibration mechanism not linked to the adapted side and predict no recalibration for the bilateral opposed condition, assuming the adapted effects were equal on each side. This was confirmed in the group of participants that adapted to vision- and tactile-leading asynchrony on the right and left hand side, respectively. However, the other group (vision-leading on the left and tactile-leading on the right) did show a recalibration effect, suggesting a distributed mechanism. We discuss these findings in terms of a hybrid model that assumes the co-existence of a centralised and distributed timing mechanism.

Multisensory Research

A Journal of Scientific Research on All Aspects of Multisensory Processing

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Figures

  • Schematic depiction of the audio-visuo-tactile apparatus. (A) The apparatus as seen from the participant’s viewpoint. The participant reached inside a foam-filled cube with their index finger where a buzzer stimulated the finger pad. A small speaker was mounted on the cube surface facing the participant and a red LED was positioned over the speaker’s centre. All three stimuli were collocated and the distance to the front surface of the cube was 30 cm from the participant’s viewing position. A fixation LED was positioned between the cubes equidistant from each one. Two response buttons were located on each cube in the upper and lower outside corners and were easily reached with the thumb. (B) The cube seen from the outer side. The inside of the cube was filled with foam except for a narrow tubular opening allowing the finger to be inserted as far as the tactile buzzer. The apparatus was tilted back 45 degrees so that it squarely faced the participant and the whole apparatus was coloured black.

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  • Experimental conditions. All blocks began with an extended adaptation phase of 50 stimulus pairs that were asynchronous by 100 ms, followed by cycles of top–up adaptation and test trials. The top–up before each test trial consisted of four repetitions of the adaptation stimuli and the task on the test trial was to judge whether the visual and tactile stimuli occurred synchronously or not. Stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs) for test trials were drawn randomly from 9 SOAs: ±480, ±320, ±160, ±80, 0 ms, with negative SOAs indicating the visual stimulus occurred first. Unilateral adaptation: Participants adapted to visual-leading (VT) or to tactile-leading (TV) asynchrony one side (e.g., left, shown here) and were tested on the same side for six blocks (162 trials in total). Adaptation and test were then carried out on the other side (e.g., right, not shown) for another six blocks. Contralateral transfer: Participants adapted to VT or TV asynchrony on one side (e.g., left, shown here) and were tested on the other side for six blocks (e.g., right, shown here). In six additional blocks, adapt/test side was swapped (not shown). Bilateral opposed: One half of the participants (i.e., Group 1, shown here) adapted to VT asynchrony on the left side and TV asynchrony on the right side within the same block. The other half (i.e., Group 2, not shown) adapted to VT asynchrony on the right side and TV asynchrony on the left side within the same block. VT and TV adapting stimuli were delivered in alternation and test trials occurred randomly on either side (only a test trial on the right is shown here, however trials also occurred on the left). Participants completed six blocks of 54 trials (27 test trials on each side).

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  • Group mean results from the unilateral adaptation, contralateral transfer and bilateral opposed conditions. The proportions of simultaneous responses were fitted with a Gaussian distribution. Negative SOAs indicate that vision was leading (VT) in these test trials. Positive SOAs indicate that touch was leading (TV) in these test trials. The black and grey lines represent the VT and TV adaptation conditions, respectively. These figures are for illustrative purposes only as all analyses were performed on individually fitted data.

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  • Results from the unilateral adaptation condition. Group 1 participants first adapted to VT asynchrony on the left and were tested on the left. Subsequently, they adapted to TV asynchrony on the right and were tested on the right. Group 2 participants first adapted to VT asynchrony on the right and were tested on the right. Subsequently, they adapted to TV asynchrony on the left and were tested on the left. The point of subjective simultaneity (PSS) was estimated using the mean of the best-fitting Gaussian to the distribution of each individual’s responses for each adaptation session (either VT or TV asynchrony). Also plotted are the Gaussian width and height estimates. Both groups showed a significant shift in PSS. Error bars indicate standard errors (N=9).

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  • Results from the contralateral transfer condition. Group 1 participants first adapted to VT asynchrony on the left and were tested on the right. Subsequently, they adapted to TV asynchrony on the right and were tested on the left. Group 2 participants first adapted to VT asynchrony on the right and were tested on the left. Subsequently, they adapted to TV asynchrony on the left and were tested on right. The point of subjective simultaneity (PSS) was estimated using the mean of the best-fitting Gaussian to the distribution of each individual’s responses for each adaptation session (either VT or TV asynchrony). Both groups showed a significant shift in PSS. Error bars indicate standard errors (N=9).

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  • Results from the bilateral opposed condition. Group 1 participants adapted to VT asynchrony on the left and TV asynchrony on the right in the same session. Group 2 participants adapted to VT asynchrony on the right and TV asynchrony on the left in the same session. Both groups were tested on the left and right during the session. The point of subjective simultaneity (PSS) was estimated using the mean of the best-fitting Gaussian of each individual’s responses to each side (which were exposed to either VT or TV asynchrony). Also plotted are the Gaussian width and height estimates. Only Group 1 participants showed a significant shift in PSS. Error bars indicate standard errors (N=9).

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