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Auditory peripersonal space in humans.

Authors
  • Farnè, Alessandro
  • Làdavas, Elisabetta
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of cognitive neuroscience
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2002
Volume
14
Issue
7
Pages
1030–1043
Identifiers
PMID: 12419126
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

In the present study we report neuropsychological evidence of the existence of an auditory peripersonal space representation around the head in humans and its characteristics. In a group of right brain-damaged patients with tactile extinction, we found that a sound delivered near the ipsilesional side of the head (20 cm) strongly extinguished a tactile stimulus delivered to the contralesional side of the head (cross-modal auditory-tactile extinction). By contrast, when an auditory stimulus was presented far from the head (70 cm), cross-modal extinction was dramatically reduced. This spatially specific cross-modal extinction was most consistently found (i.e., both in the front and back spaces) when a complex sound was presented, like a white noise burst. Pure tones produced spatially specific cross-modal extinction when presented in the back space, but not in the front space. In addition, the most severe cross-modal extinction emerged when sounds came from behind the head, thus showing that the back space is more sensitive than the front space to the sensory interaction of auditory-tactile inputs. Finally, when cross-modal effects were investigated by reversing the spatial arrangement of cross-modal stimuli (i.e., touch on the right and sound on the left), we found that an ipsilesional tactile stimulus, although inducing a small amount of cross-modal tactile-auditory extinction, did not produce any spatial-specific effect. Therefore, the selective aspects of cross-modal interaction found near the head cannot be explained by a competition between a damaged left spatial representation and an intact right spatial representation. Thus, consistent with neurophysiological evidence from monkeys, our findings strongly support the existence, in humans, of an integrated cross-modal system coding auditory and tactile stimuli near the body, that is, in the peripersonal space.

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