When temporal certainty doesn’t help

Flor Kusnir, Slav Pesin, Gal Moscona, Ayelet N. Landau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

In a dynamically changing environment, the ability to capture regularities in our sensory input helps us generate predictions about future events. In most sensory systems, the basic finding is clear: Knowing when something will happen improves performance on it [Nobre, A. C., & van Ede, F. (2017). Anticipated moments: Temporal structure in attention. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 19, 34–48, 2017]. We here examined the impact of temporal predictions on a less-explored modality: touch. Participants were instructed to detect a brief target embedded in an ongoing vibrotactile stimulus. Unbeknownst to them, the experiment had two timing conditions: In one part, the time of target onset was fixed and thus temporally predictable, whereas in the other, it could appear at a random time within the ongoing stimulation. We found a clear modulation of detection thresholds due to temporal predictability: Contrary to other sensory systems, detecting a predictable tactile target was worse relative to unpredictable targets. We discuss our findings within the framework of tactile suppression.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)315-325
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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