Motor-sensory confluence in tactile perception

Avraham Saig, Goren Gordon, Eldad Assa, Amos Arieli, Ehud Ahissar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perception involves motor control of sensory organs. However, the dynamics underlying emergence of perception from motorsensory interactions are not yet known. Two extreme possibilities are as follows: (1) motor and sensory signals interact within an open-loop scheme in which motor signals determine sensory sampling but are not affected by sensory processing and (2) motor and sensory signals are affected by each other within a closed-loop scheme. We studied the scheme of motor-sensory interactions in humans using a novel object localization task that enabled monitoring the relevant overt motor and sensory variables. We found that motor variables were dynamically controlled within each perceptual trial, such that they gradually converged to steady values. Training on this task resulted in improvement in perceptual acuity, which was achieved solely by changes in motor variables, without any change in the acuity of sensory readout. The within-trial dynamics is captured by a hierarchical closed-loop model in which lower loops actively maintain constant sensory coding, and higher loops maintain constant sensory update flow. These findings demonstrate interchangeability of motor and sensory variables in perception, motor convergence during perception, and a consistent hierarchical closed-loop perceptual model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14022-14032
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number40
StatePublished - 3 Oct 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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