Lectures and seminars Cognitive Neuroscience Club with Luke Miller: "Tools extend the spatial limits of touch beyond the body"
The Cognitive Neuroscience Club is hosting monthly webinars on the topic Cognitive Neuroscience. The webinars usually takes place during the last week of the month. On Tuesday 30 November 2021, we welcome Assistant Professor Luke Miller, Donders Centre for Cognition, Radboud University, The Netherlands. Join us via Zoom.
"Tools extend the spatial limits of touch beyond the body"
Assistant Professor Luke Miller, Donders Centre for Cognition, Radboud University, The Netherlands
Intuitively, the human sense of touch is body-centric; that is, it is concerned with the detection and localization of objects contacting the body surface. In this talk, I will present data that questions this intuition. Specifically, I will discuss our recent research that has demonstrated that humans can use hand-held tools as sensory extensions of their body. I will first discuss several behavioural studies that applied classic body-centred localization paradigms to localizing touch on a tool. These studies found that human participants can do this very accurately. This is even the case when the tool is six-meters long and when complex sensorimotor transformations are necessary to do the task. I will then present EEG evidence suggesting that the human nervous system re-uses low-level neural processes for localizing touch on the body to localize touch on a tool. These neural signals contain fine-grained information about the precise location of touch on a tool. In all, these findings argue that a tool becomes an integrated part of the somatosensory system when wielded, readily extending tactile perception well beyond the spatial limits of the body.