Scientists examine the multisensory facility near the body in all directions


A virtual sound source approached or receded in the relative direction of the front, back, left, or right body. Participants were asked to quickly and accurately detect the tactile sensation of a vibrator attached to the chest, regardless of sound. When the sound source approached in any direction and was closer to the body, vibration was detected more quickly. Credit: Toyohashi University of Technology

Peripersonal space (PPS) is defined as the space close to the body within which we can reach external objects and be cared for by others. It has the special function of multisensory facilitation.

A research team from Toyohashi University of Technology, in collaboration with researchers from Keio University and the University of Tokyo, investigated the representation of PPS in the front, rear, left, and right directions using multisensory audio integration. -tactile by tactile detection with approaches for irrelevant tasks and backward sounds.

They found that tactile stimulus was detected faster near body space than away from it when sound approached from any direction, but not when it moved away. Therefore, there are peripersonal representations with a sound of approximation, regardless of the direction of approximation. This study was published in Scientific reports on May 28, 2021.

It is important for humans and to detect a which has a potential or immediate threat to the space immediately surrounding the body, i.e., PPS. However, a debate remains on the form and extent of the PPS.

In the experiment, the researchers investigated the representations of PPS in four directions (frontal, posterior, left, and right), while previous studies focused on the differences between the anterior and posterior directions or left and right.

Because humans can hear sounds from any direction, the researchers used irrelevant sounds that come and go in the experiment. Participants were asked to respond as quickly as possible when a tactile stimulus was applied to a chest vibrator. The time of the tactile stimulus varied in relation to the location of the virtual sound source, while observers had their eyes blindfolded during the experiment.

The results indicated that as the sound approached, observers responded to the tactile stimulus more quickly when the position of the sound was closer to them than when it was farther away. Thus, participants could integrate multisensory stimuli (tactile and sound stimuli of approach irrelevant to the task) close to the body. This multisensory facilitation effect in PPS decreased or weakened with the retracting sound, which may be due to an approaching sound may signal an imminent threat, while a retracting sound poses no danger.

Therefore, the PPS representation is almost circular around the trunk of the , which implies that humans can detect a threat from any direction quickly by approaching information to PPS.

The research team investigated PPS representations in the front, back, left, and right directions, but not in the up and down directions. PPS representations in three dimensions it should be investigated in future studies because audio information is available and there are potential threats in all three-dimensional directions.

Your brain considers the personal space of other people like yours

More information:
Yusuke Matsuda et al, peripersonal space in the front, rear, left and right directions for a multisensory audio-tactile integration, Scientific reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-021-90784-5

Citation: Scientists examine multisensory facility near the body in all directions (2021, June 4) retrieved June 5, 2021 at

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