Motor modules account for active perception of force

Simone Toma, Marco Santello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Despite longstanding evidence suggesting a relation between action and perception, the mechanisms underlying their integration are still unclear. It has been proposed that to simplify the sensorimotor integration processes underlying active perception, the central nervous system (CNS) selects patterns of movements aimed at maximizing sampling of task-related sensory input. While previous studies investigated the action-perception loop focusing on the role of higher-level features of motor behavior (e.g., kinematic invariants, effort), the present study explored and quantified the contribution of lower-level organization of motor control. We tested the hypothesis that the coordinated recruitment of group of muscles (i.e., motor modules) engaged to counteract an external force contributes to participants’ perception of the same force. We found that: 1) a model describing the modulation of a subset of motor modules involved in the motor task accounted for about 70% of participants’ perceptual variance; 2) an alternative model, incompatible with the motor modules hypothesis, accounted for significantly lower variance of participants’ detection performance. Our results provide empirical evidence of the potential role played by muscle activation patterns in active perception of force. They also suggest that a modular organization of motor control may mediate not only coordination of multiple muscles, but also perceptual inference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8983
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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