Exploring Reference Frame Integration Using Response Demands in a Tactile Temporal-Order Judgement Task
Exploring the world through touch requires the integration of internal (e.g., anatomical) and external (e.g., spatial) reference frames — you only know what you touch when you know where your hands are in space. The deficit observed in tactile temporal-order judgements when the hands are crossed over the midline provides one tool to explore this integration. We used foot pedals and required participants to focus on either the hand that was stimulated first (an anatomical bias condition) or the location of the hand that was stimulated first (a spatiotopic bias condition). Spatiotopic-based responses produce a larger crossed-hands deficit, presumably by focusing observers on the external reference frame. In contrast, anatomical-based responses focus the observer on the internal reference frame and produce a smaller deficit. This manipulation thus provides evidence that observers can change the relative weight given to each reference frame. We quantify this effect using a probabilistic model that produces a population estimate of the relative weight given to each reference frame. We show that a spatiotopic bias can result in either a larger external weight (Experiment 1) or a smaller internal weight (Experiment 2) and provide an explanation of when each one would occur.