Optical Imaging of a Tactile Illusion in Area 3b of the Primary Somatosensory Cortex

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Science  31 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5646, pp. 881-885
DOI: 10.1126/science.1087846

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In the tactile funneling illusion, the simultaneous presentation of brief stimuli at multiple points on the skin produces a single focal sensation at the center of the stimulus pattern even when no physical stimulus occurs at that site. Consistent with the funneling percept, we show with optical imaging in area 3b of the primary somatosensory cortex (SI) that simultaneous stimulation of two fingertips produces a single focal cortical activation between the single fingertip activation regions. Thus, in contrast to traditional views of the body map, topographic representation in the SI reflects the perceived rather than the physical location of peripheral stimulation.

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