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Journal Article

Temporal processing of active and passive head movement


Barnett-Cowan,  M
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Barnett-Cowan, M. (2011). Temporal processing of active and passive head movement. Experimental Brain Research, 214(1), 27-35. doi:10.1007/s00221-011-2802-0.

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The brain can know about an active head movement even in advance of its execution by means of an efference copy signal. In fact, sensory correlates of active movements appear to be suppressed. Passive disturbances of the head, however, can be detected only by sensory feedback. Might the perceived timing of an active head movement be speeded relative to the perception of a passive movement due to the efferent copy (anticipation hypothesis) or delayed because of sensory suppression (suppression hypothesis)? We compared the perceived timing of active and passive head movement using other sensory events as temporal reference points. Participants made unspeeded temporal order and synchronicity judgments comparing the perceived onset of active and passive head movement with the onset of tactile, auditory and visual stimuli. The comparison stimuli had to be delayed by about 45 ms to appear coincident with passive head movement or by about 80 ms to appear aligned with an active head movement. The slow perceptual reaction to vestibular activation is compatible with our earlier study using galvanic stimulation (Barnett-Cowan and Harris 2009). The unexpected additional delay in processing the timing of an active head movement is compatible with the suppression hypothesis and is discussed in relation to suppression of vestibular signals during self-generated head movement.