Tactile stimuli on moving limbs are typically attenuated during reach planning and execution. This phenomenon has been related to internal forward models that predict the sensory consequences of a movement. Tactile suppression is considered to occur due to a match between the actual and predicted sensory consequences of a movement, which might free capacities to process novel or task-relevant sensory signals. Here we examined whether and how tactile suppression depends on the relevance of somatosensory information for reaching. Participants reached with their left or right index finger to the unseen index finger of their other hand (body target) or an unseen pad on a screen (external target). In the body target condition, somatosensory signals from the static hand were available for localizing the reach target. Vibrotactile stimuli were presented on the moving index finger before or during reaching, or in a separate no-movement baseline block, and participants indicated whether they detected a stimulus. As expected, detection thresholds before or during reaching were higher compared to baseline. Tactile suppression was also stronger for reaches to body targets than external targets, as reflected by higher detection thresholds and lower precision of detectability. Moreover, detection thresholds were higher when reaching with the left than with the right hand. Our results suggest that tactile suppression is modulated by position signals from the target limb that are required to successfully reach to the own body. Moreover, limb dominance seems to affect tactile suppression presumably due to disparate uncertainty of feedback signals from the moving limb.
- tactile perception
- sensory suppression
- task relevance
- Copyright © 2017, Journal of Neurophysiology