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Jiale Yang, Natasa Ganea, So Kanazawa, Masami K. Yamaguchi, Andrew Bremner; Tactile influences on visual processing of bodily information in infant. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):119c. doi: 10.1167/19.10.119c.
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Body representations are products of complex multisensory interactions and are closely related to motor control and the sense of self. A number of claims have been made that humans are born with an innate ability to perceive their own bodies (Rochat, 2010), with some evidence of visual tactile interactions present in the early months of life (Filippetti et al., 2013; Freier et al., 2016). However, only a little is known about how the multisensory body representations develop. In the present study, we used the steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEP) to investigate the development of tactile-visual cortical interactions underlying body representations in infants. In Experiment 1, twelve 4-month-old and twelve 8-month-old infants watched a visual presentation in which a hand was stroked with a metal tube. To elicit the SSVEP, the video flashed at 7.5 Hz. In the tactile-visual condition the infant’s own hand was also stroked by a tube whilst they watched the movie. In the vision-only condition, no tactile stimulus was applied to the infant’s hand. We found larger SSVEPs in the tactile-visual condition than the vision-only condition in 8-month-old infants, but no difference between the two conditions in the 4-month-olds. In Experiment 2, we presented an irrelevant video to 8-month-old infants rather than a hand. The enhancement of tactile stimuli on SSVEP was absent in this case, demonstrating that there was some degree of body-specific information was required to drive the tactile enhancements of visual cortical processing seen in Experiment 1. Taken together, our results indicate that tactile influences on visual processing of bodily information develops between 4 and 8 months of age.
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