Feeling Better: Separate Pathways for Targeted Enhancement of Spatial and Temporal Touch

Jeffrey M. Yau, Pablo Celnik, Steven S. Hsiao, John E. Desmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


People perceive spatial form and temporal frequency through touch. Although distinct somatosensory neurons represent spatial and temporal information, these neural populations are intermixed throughout the somatosensory system. Here, we show that spatial and temporal touch can be dissociated and separately enhanced via cortical pathways that are normally associated with vision and audition. In Experiments 1 and 2, we found that anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied over visual cortex, but not auditory cortex, enhances tactile perception of spatial orientation. In Experiments 3 and 4, we found that anodal tDCS over auditory cortex, but not visual cortex, enhances tactile perception of temporal frequency. This double dissociation reveals separate cortical pathways that selectively support spatial and temporal channels. These results bolster the emerging view that sensory areas process multiple modalities and suggest that supramodal domains may be more fundamental to cortical organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-565
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • brain stimulation
  • cognitive neuroscience
  • crossmodal processing
  • multisensory
  • perception
  • perceptual enhancement
  • spatial perception
  • tactile
  • temporal frequency
  • vibrotactile thresholds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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