Tool-use changes multimodal spatial interactions between vision and touch in normal humans.
Maravita A., Spence C., Kennett S., Driver J.
In a visual-tactile interference paradigm, subjects judged whether tactile vibrations arose on a finger or thumb (upper vs. lower locations), while ignoring distant visual distractor lights that also appeared in upper or lower locations. Incongruent visual distractors (e.g. a lower light combined with upper touch) disrupt such tactile judgements, particularly when appearing near the tactile stimulus (e.g. on the same side of space as the stimulated hand). Here we show that actively wielding tools can change this pattern of crossmodal interference. When such tools were held in crossed positions (connecting the left hand to the right visual field, and vice-versa), the spatial constraints on crossmodal interference reversed, so that visual distractors in the other visual field now disrupted tactile judgements most for a particular hand. This phenomenon depended on active tool-use, developing with increased experience in using the tool. We relate these results to recent physiological and neuropsychological findings.