Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

The Role of Mechanical Impact in Action-Related Auditory Attenuation

Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

The Role of Mechanical Impact in Action-Related Auditory Attenuation

Article excerpt

Published online: 11 April 2014

(£> Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract A number of studies have shown that sounds tem- porally close to one's own finger movements elicit lower- amplitude auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) than do the same tones when they are only listened to. In these studies, the actions have involved making a mechanical contact with an object. In the present study, the role of mechanical contact with an object was investigated in action-related auditory attenuation. In three experiments, participants performed a time-interval production task. In each experiment, in one condition the action involved touching an object, but no mechanical contact was made in the other. The estimated tone-related ERP contributions to the action-tone coincidence ERP waveforms (calculated by subtracting the action-related ERP from the coincidence ERP) were more attenuated when the action involved moving the finger and making a mechan- ical contact at the end of the movement. However, when participants kept their finger on a piezoelectric element and applied pressure impulses without moving their finger, the action did not result in stronger attenuation of the tone- related auditory ERP estimates. Although these results may suggest that auditory ERP attenuation is stronger for actions resulting in mechanical impact, they also imply that mechan- ical impact may confound and lead to the overestimation of auditory ERP attenuation in such paradigms, because the impact may result in faint but audible sounds.

Keywords Attention · ERP · Auditory perception · Action · Forward model

Actions are seldom performed for their own sake. Most of our actions are goal-directed and result in direct interactions with the environment. Many studies have shown that stimulation caused by our own actions is processed differently from stimulation caused by external some es. In the auditory do- main, it has been found that sounds occurring in temporal proximity to one's own actions are processed differently from those far from actions, even if the actions are not vocaliza- tions. This is reflected in the attenuation of the N1 and P2 auditory event-related brain potentials (ERPs; e.g., Aliu, Houde, & Nagarajan, 2009; Baess, Horváth, Jacobsen, & Schröger, 2011; Ford, Gray, Faustman, Roach, & Mathalon, 2007; Knolle, Schröger, Baess, & Kotz, 2012; Martikainen, Kaneko, & Hari, 2005; McCarthy & Donchin, 1976; Schafer & Marcus, 1973; Sowman, Kuusik, & Johnson, 2012), as well as subjective reports of lower loudness levels (Desantis, Weiss, Schütz-Bosbach, & Waszak, 2012; Weiss, Herwig, & Schütz-Bosbach, 2011). These attenuation effects are attribut- ed to predictive (Hughes, Desantis, & Waszak, 2013) or attentional (Horváth, Maess, Baess, & Tóth, 2012) mecha- nisms related to the voluntary performance of the given movement. One common feafiue of all sfiidies investigating action-related auditory attenuation with nonspeech actions is that the actions are not simply movements, but interactions with objects (typically buttonpresses). The success of the action depends not only on oiu intention and capability to act, but on the physical properties of the manipulated objects and oiu knowledge of these properties. For example, too short or too weak movements may not result in a successful buttonpress (although these movements are still actions). The goal of the present study was to investigate whether the mechanical interaction with an external object has played a role in the auditory ERP attenuations reported in the literafiue.

Most sfiidies investigating action-related attenuation of auditory ERPs have administered protocols in which the sounds were caused by the task-relevant actions (contingent paradigm). Because of this arrangement, it was hypothesized that these attenuations reflected the cancellation of sensory reafference (Miall & Wolpert, 1996): It was assumed that causal action-sound relationships were represented in the form of internal forward models, and through the efference copy or corollary discharge (Sperry, 1950; von Holst & Mittelstaedt, 1950; for a recent summary, see Crapse & Sommer, 2008a, 2008b) function, the auditory system was prepared for the consequences of the to-be-performed action to prevent the redundant processing of the incoming sounds. …

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