Visual objects approaching the body modulate subsequent somatosensory processing at 4 months of age

Orioli, Giulia; Parisi, Irene; Van Velzen, Jose L. and Bremner, Andrew J.. 2023. Visual objects approaching the body modulate subsequent somatosensory processing at 4 months of age. Scientific Reports, 13, 19300. ISSN 2045-2322 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

We asked whether, in the first year of life, the infant brain can support the dynamic crossmodal interactions between vision and somatosensation that are required to represent peripersonal space. Infants aged 4 (n = 20, 9 female) and 8 (n = 20, 10 female) months were presented with a visual object that moved towards their body or receded away from it. This was presented in the bottom half of the screen and not fixated upon by the infants, who were instead focusing on an attention getter at the top of the screen. The visual moving object then disappeared and was followed by a vibrotactile stimulus occurring later in time and in a different location in space (on their hands). The 4-month-olds’ somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) were enhanced when tactile stimuli were preceded by unattended approaching visual motion, demonstrating that the dynamic visual-somatosensory cortical interactions underpinning representations of the body and peripersonal space begin early in the first year of life. Within the 8-month-olds’ sample, SEPs were increasingly enhanced by (unexpected) tactile stimuli following receding visual motion as age in days increased, demonstrating changes in the neural underpinnings of the representations of peripersonal space across the first year of life.

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This research was supported by a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust grant (SG170901) awarded to G.O. and A.B. and a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship (ECF-2019-563) awarded to G.O.

Data Access Statement:

The present study has not been formally preregistered. The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are available in the University of Birmingham eData repository and can be retrieved from The scripts and datasets used to perform the analyses reported in this manuscript are available online on the Open Science Framework website and can be retrieved from A version of this manuscript has been posted as a preprint71, made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license, and can be retrieved from:


human behaviour, perception, sensorimotor processing, sensory processing, somatosensory system

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25 October 2023Accepted
21 November 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2024 14:11

Last Modified:

12 Mar 2024 14:16

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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