Oscillatory activity reflects differential use of spatial reference frames by sighted and blind individuals in tactile attention.

Schubert, TJ, Buchholz, VN, Foecker, Julia , Engel, AK, Röder, B and Heed, T (2015) Oscillatory activity reflects differential use of spatial reference frames by sighted and blind individuals in tactile attention. Neuroimage, 117 . pp. 417-428. ISSN 1053-8119

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.068

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Touch can be localized either on the skin in anatomical coordinates, or, after integration with posture, in external space. Sighted individuals are thought to encode touch in both coordinate systems concurrently, whereas congenitally blind individuals exhibit a strong bias for using anatomical coordinates. We investigated the neural correlates of this differential dominance in the use of anatomical and external reference frames by assessing oscillatory brain activity during a tactile spatial attention task. The EEG was recorded while sighted and congenitally blind adults received tactile stimulation to uncrossed and crossed hands while detecting rare tactile targets at one cued hand only. In the sighted group, oscillatory alpha-band activity (8-12Hz) in the cue-target interval was reduced contralaterally and enhanced ipsilaterally with uncrossed hands. Hand crossing attenuated the degree of posterior parietal alpha-band lateralization, indicating that attention deployment was affected by external spatial coordinates. Beamforming suggested that this posture effect originated in the posterior parietal cortex. In contrast, cue-related lateralization of central alpha-band as well as of beta-band activity (16-24Hz) were unaffected by hand crossing, suggesting that these oscillations exclusively encode anatomical coordinates. In the blind group, central alpha-band activity was lateralized, but did not change across postures. The pattern of beta-band activity was indistinguishable between groups. Because the neural mechanisms for posterior alpha-band generation seem to be linked to developmental vision, we speculate that the lack of this neural mechanism in blind individuals is related to their preferred use of anatomical over external spatial codes in sensory processing.

Additional Information:The final published version of this article is available online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811915004589
Keywords:Congenitally blind humans, Parietal cortex, Spatial attention, Tactile remapping, Touch
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:32885
Deposited On:01 Oct 2018 13:13

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