School of Medical and Health Sciences
Copyright: © 2020 Seizova-Cajic et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. An age-old hypothesis proposes that object motion across the receptor surface organizes sensory maps (Lotze, 19th century). Skin patches learn their relative positions from the order in which they are stimulated during motion events. We propose that reversing the local motion within a global motion sequence (‘motion scrambling’) provides a good test for this idea, and present results of the first experiment implementing the paradigm. We used 6-point apparent motion along the forearm. In the Scrambled sequence, two middle locations were touched in reversed order (1-2-4-3-5-6, followed by 6-5-3-4-2-1, in a continuous loop). This created a double U-turn within an otherwise constant-velocity motion, as if skin patches 3 and 4 physically swapped locations. The control condition, Orderly, proceeded at constant velocity at inter-stimulus onset interval of 120 ms. The 26.4-minute conditioning (delivered in twenty-four 66-s bouts) was interspersed with testing of perceived motion direction between the two middle tactors presented on their own (sequence 3–4 or 4–3). Our twenty participants reported motion direction. Direction discrimination was degraded following exposure to Scrambled pattern and was 0.31 d’ weaker than following Orderly conditioning (p = .007). Consistent with the proposed role of motion, this could be the beginning of re-learning of relative positions. An alternative explanation is that greater speed adaptation occurred in the Scrambled pattern, raising direction threshold. In future studies, longer conditioning should tease apart the two explanations: our re-mapping hypothesis predicts an overall reversal in perceived motion direction between critical locations (for either motion direction), whereas the speed adaptation alternative predicts chance-level performance at worst, without reversing.
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