Can tactile suppression be explained by attentional capture?
Juravle G., Spence C.
© 2017 IEEE. Tactile suppression significantly affects perception on the moving effector of a goal-directed movement. However, it is unclear whether the movement of one hand affects touch at the other, resting, hand. Here, participants had to discriminate between the intensity of two vibrations delivered to their left forearm. They performed the task during a rest condition (both hands at rest) and a movement condition (left hand at rest, right hand moving). Tactile stimulation was delivered during the specific movement execution time-window in which sensory suppression has been reported previously. Stimulation was only delivered to the resting hand. The hypothesis was that if attentional capture were to be responsible for suppression, then this effect should evidence itself as a significant difference in tactile thresholds measured at the resting hand for conditions of rest versus movement. Comparable sensitivity between the two conditions would, in turn, argue against the attentional capture account. Our results support the latter view, indicating that tactile suppression is, in fact, not reducible to attentional capture. The implications of these results for our understanding of attentional capture in the various senses under conditions of rest/movement, as well as with respect to the rapidly-growing body-mounted haptic interface industry, are highlighted.