Tactile perception is typically considered the result of cortical interpretation of afferent signals from a network of mechanical sensors underneath the skin. Yet, tactile illusion studies suggest that tactile perception can be elicited without afferent signals from mechanoceptors. Therefore, the extent that tactile perception arises from isomorphic mapping of tactile afferents onto the somatosensory cortex remains controversial. We tested whether isomorphic mapping of tactile afferent fibers onto the cortex leads directly to tactile perception by examining whether it is independent from proprioceptive input by evaluating the impact of different hand postures on the perception of a tactile illusion across fingertips. Using the Cutaneous Rabbit Effect, a well studied illusion evoking the perception that a stimulus occurs at a location where none has been delivered, we found that hand posture has a significant effect on the perception of the illusion across the fingertips. This finding emphasizes that tactile perception arises from integration of perceived mechanical and proprioceptive input and not purely from tactile interaction with the external environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas