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Cortical Representation of Tactile Stickiness Evoked by Skin Contact and Glove Contact

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Kim,  J
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bülthoff,  I
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bülthoff,  HH
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kim, J., Bülthoff, I., & Bülthoff, H. (2020). Cortical Representation of Tactile Stickiness Evoked by Skin Contact and Glove Contact. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 14: 19, pp. 1-10. doi:10.3389/fnint.2020.00019.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-1268-1
Abstract
Even when we are wearing gloves, we can easily detect whether a surface that we are touching is sticky or not. However, we know little about the similarities between brain activations elicited by this glove contact and by direct contact with our bare skin. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we investigated which brain regions represent stickiness intensity information obtained in both touch conditions, i.e., skin contact and glove contact. First, we searched for neural representations mediating stickiness for each touch condition separately and found regions responding to both mainly in the supramarginal gyrus and the secondary somatosensory cortex. Second, we explored whether surface stickiness is encoded in common neural patterns irrespective of how participants touched the sticky stimuli. Using a cross-condition decoding method, we tested whether the stickiness intensities could be decoded from fMRI signals evoked by skin contact using a classifier trained on the responses elicited by glove contact, and vice versa. Our results found shared neural encoding patterns in the bilateral angular gyri and the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and suggest that these areas represent stickiness intensity information regardless of how participants touched the sticky stimuli. Interestingly, we observed that neural encoding patterns of these areas were reflected in participants’ intensity ratings. This study revealed common and distinct brain activation patterns of tactile stickiness using two different touch conditions, which may broaden the understanding of neural mechanisms related to surface texture perception.