Attention modulates sensory suppression during back movements.
Van Hulle L., Juravle G., Spence C., Crombez G., Van Damme S.
Tactile perception is often impaired during movement. The present study investigated whether such sensory suppression also occurs during back movements, and whether this would be modulated by attention. In two tactile detection experiments, participants simultaneously engaged in a movement task, in which they executed a back-bending movement, and a perceptual task, consisting of the detection of subtle tactile stimuli administered to their upper or lower back. The focus of participants' attention was manipulated by raising the probability that one of the back locations would be stimulated. The results revealed that tactile detection was suppressed during the execution of the back movements. Furthermore, the results of Experiment 2 revealed that when the stimulus was always presented to the attended location, tactile suppression was substantially reduced, suggesting that sensory suppression can be modulated by top-down attentional processes. The potential of this paradigm for studying tactile information processing in clinical populations is discussed.