Chris Eliasmith, Director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, received the prestigious John C. Polanyi Award and is also an inaugural member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists.
Department of Kinesiology
University of Waterloo
Crossmodal Influences in Somatosensory Cortex: Interaction of Vision, Touch, and Attention
Bimodal interactions between relevant visual and tactile inputs can facilitate attentional modulation at early stages in somatosensory cortices to achieve goal-oriented behaviors. However, the specific contribution of each sensory system during attentional processing and, importantly, how these interact with the required behavioural motor goals remains unclear. Experiments will be presented that used EEG and event-related potentials (ERPs) to test hypotheses that activity from modality-specific somatosensory cortical regions would be enhanced with task-relevant bimodal (visual-tactile) stimuli and suppressed when the same stimuli were in conflict for the behavioural task. Results show that specific modality-specific somatosensory ERPs are modulated with attentional state (either enhanced or suppressed) and this is related to the behavioural impacts when presented in conflict. Transient inhibition of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex using transcranial magnetic stimulation reduces these attention-based modulations of tactile ERPs. The functional significance of this to sensorimotor behavior will be discussed.
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