Alpha- band oscillations reflect external spatial coding for tactile stimuli in sighted, but not in congenitally blind humans

Schubert, Jonathan T W and Bucholz, Verena N and Foecker, Julia and Roeder, Brigitte and Engel, Andreas K and Heed, Tobias (2019) Alpha- band oscillations reflect external spatial coding for tactile stimuli in sighted, but not in congenitally blind humans. Scientific Reports, 9 . ISSN UNSPECIFIED

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-45634-w

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Alpha- band oscillations reflect external spatial coding for tactile stimuli in sighted, but not in congenitally blind humans
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Alpha- band oscillations reflect external spatial coding for tactile stimuli in sighted, but not in congenitally blind humans
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Abstract

We investigated the function of oscillatory alpha-band activity in the neural coding of spatial information during tactile processing. Sighted humans concurrently encode tactile location in skin-based and, after integration with posture, external spatial reference frames, whereas congenitally blind humans preferably use skin-based coding. Accordingly, lateralization of alpha-band activity in parietal regions during attentional orienting in expectance of tactile stimulation reflected external spatial coding in sighted, but skin-based coding in blind humans. Here, we asked whether alpha-band activity plays a similar role in spatial coding for tactile processing, that is, after the stimulus has been received. Sighted and congenitally blind participants were cued to attend to one hand in order to detect rare tactile deviant stimuli at this hand while ignoring tactile deviants at the other hand and tactile standard stimuli at both hands. The reference frames encoded by oscillatory activity during tactile processing were probed by adopting either an uncrossed or crossed hand posture. In sighted participants, attended relative to unattended standard stimuli suppressed the power in the alpha-band over ipsilateral centro-parietal and occipital cortex. Hand crossing attenuated this attentional modulation predominantly over ipsilateral posterior-parietal cortex. In contrast, although contralateral alpha-activity was enhanced for attended versus unattended stimuli in blind participants, no crossing effects were evident in the oscillatory activity of this group. These findings suggest that oscillatory alpha-band activity plays a pivotal role in the neural coding of external spatial information for touch.

Keywords:Congenitally blind humans; ERP; audio-tactile
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:36433
Deposited On:10 Jul 2019 13:13

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