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Why does a cooled object feel heavier? Psychophysical investigations into the Webers Phenomenon
University of Western Sydney, Australia.
University of Western Sydney, Australia.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. University of Western Sydney, Australia.
2017 (English)In: BMC neuroscience (Online), ISSN 1471-2202, E-ISSN 1471-2202, Vol. 18, article id 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: It has long been known that a concomitantly cooled stimulus is perceived as heavier than the same object at a neutral temperature-termed Webers Phenomenon (WP). In the current study, we re-examined this phenomenon using well-controlled force and temperature stimuli to explore the complex interplay between thermal and tactile systems, and the peripheral substrates contributing to these interactions. A feedback-controlled apparatus was constructed using a mechanical stimulator attached to a 5- x 5-mm thermode. Force combinations of 0.5 and 1 N (superimposed on 1-N step) were applied to the ulnar territory of dorsal hand. One of the forces had a thermal component, being cooled from 32 to 28 degrees C at a rate of 2 degrees C/s with a 3-s static phase. The other stimulus was thermally neutral (32 degrees C). Participants were asked to report whether the first or the second stimulus was perceived heavier. These observations were obtained in the all-fibre-intact condition and following the preferential block of myelinated fibres by compression of ulnar nerve. Results: In normal condition, when the same forces were applied, all subjects displayed a clear preference for the cooled tactile stimulus as being heavier than the tactile-only stimulus. The frequency of this effect was augmented by an additional similar to 17% when cooling was applied concurrently with the second stimulus. Following compression block, the mean incidence of WP was significantly reduced regardless of whether cooling was applied concurrently with the first or the second stimulus. However, while the effect was abolished in case of former (elicited in amp;lt; 50% of trials), the compression block had little effect in four out of nine participants in case of latter who reported WP in at least 80% of trials (despite abolition of vibration and cold sensations). Conclusions: WP was found to be a robust tactile-thermal interaction in the all-fibre-intact condition. The emergence of inter-individual differences during myelinated block suggests that subjects may adopt strategies, unbeknownst to them, that focus on the dominant input (myelinated fibres, hence WP abolished by block) or the sum of convergent inputs (myelinated and C fibres, hence WP preserved during block) in order to determine differences in perceived heaviness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BIOMED CENTRAL LTD , 2017. Vol. 18, article id 4
Keywords [en]
Webers Phenomenon; Slowly adapting mechanoreceptor; C-tactile fibre; Heaviness perception; Touch-temperature interaction
National Category
Neurology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-134602DOI: 10.1186/s12868-016-0322-3ISI: 000392142800004PubMedID: 28049434OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-134602DiVA, id: diva2:1076016
Note

Funding Agencies|Western Sydney University Early Career Research Grant [P00021752]; School of Medicine, Western Sydney University

Available from: 2017-02-21 Created: 2017-02-21 Last updated: 2018-04-16

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