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Does response facilitation to visuo-tactile stimuli around a remote-controlled hand avatar reflect peripersonal space or attentional bias?
Experimental Brain Research  (IF1.972),  Pub Date : 2021-08-17, DOI: 10.1007/s00221-021-06192-8
Mine, Daisuke, Yokosawa, Kazuhiko

People react faster to visuo-tactile stimuli presented near the body (i.e., in peripersonal space) than to tactile stimuli presented alone. This multi-sensory facilitation effect has been used as a measurement of peripersonal space. Previous research has reported that peripersonal space representations can be modulated by actively using hand-held tools or disconnected hand avatars. However, previous research has ignored the possibility that the attentional effect of active tool use could affect multi-sensory facilitation. In the present study, we delivered tactile stimuli to participants’ left or right hand concurrently with visual stimuli presented near a virtual hand avatar operated by the movements of participants’ left or right hand, which was shown far in a virtual environment and disconnected from the body. Participants reacted to tactile stimuli while ignoring the visual stimuli. The results indicated a multi-sensory facilitation effect when tactile stimuli were delivered to the hand used to operate the hand avatar. In contrast, the facilitation was not observed when the tactile stimuli were delivered to the hand that is not operating the hand avatar. These results suggest that the strength of the multi-sensory facilitation effect differed across conditions, even though the visual attention captured around the hand avatar was controlled across conditions. We concluded that the modulation of peripersonal space resulting from using tools or avatars is nearly independent of visual attention captured around tools or avatars.