October 24, 2020

The ontogeny of multisensory peripersonal space in human infancy: From visual-tactile links to conscious expectations.

The influence of visual object motion on the processing of bodily events offers a marker for the development of human infants’ perception of themselves in peripersonal space. We presented 4- (n = 20) and 8-month-old (n = 20) infants with an unattended visual object moving towards or away from their body followed by a vibrotactile stimulus on their hands. The 4-month-olds’ somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) were modulated by approaching visual motion, demonstrating the early ontogeny of the cortical multisensory foundations of peripersonal space representations. We also observed rapid changes in these markers within the 8-month-old age group: as infants approach 9 months, salient SEP components were increasingly enhanced by (unexpected) tactile stimuli following receding visual motion. These findings provide important clues to the ontogeny of human self-awareness in the first year of life, and suggest important postnatal developments in infants’ expectations about interactions between the body and the external world.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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