Differential sensory cortical involvement in auditory and visual sensorimotor temporal recalibration: Evidence from transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)

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Adaptation to delayed sensory feedback following an action produces a subjective time compression between the action and the feedback (temporal recalibration effect, TRE). TRE is important for sensory delay compensation to maintain a relationship between causally related events. It is unclear whether TRE is a sensory modality-specific phenomenon. In 3 experiments employing a sensorimotor synchronization task, we investigated this question using cathodal transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS). We found that cathodal tDCS over the visual cortex, and to a lesser extent over the auditory cortex, produced decreased visual TRE. However, both auditory and visual cortex tDCS did not produce any measurable effects on auditory TRE. Our study revealed different nature of TRE in auditory and visual domains. Visual-motor TRE, which is more variable than auditory TRE, is a sensory modality-specific phenomenon, modulated by the auditory cortex. The robustness of auditory-motor TRE, unaffected by tDCS, suggests the dominance of the auditory system in temporal processing, by providing a frame of reference in the realignment of sensorimotor timing signals.

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