Scientific article
Open access

A common computational principle for vibrotactile pitch perception in mouse and human

Published inNature Communications, vol. 12, no. 1, 5336
Publication date2021-09-09
First online date2021-09-09

We live surrounded by vibrations generated by moving objects. These oscillatory stimuli propagate through solid substrates, are sensed by mechanoreceptors in our body and give rise to perceptual attributes such as vibrotactile pitch (i.e. the perception of how high or low a vibration’s frequency is). Here, we establish a mechanistic relationship between vibrotactile pitch perception and the physical properties of vibrations using behavioral tasks, in which vibratory stimuli were delivered to the human fingertip or the mouse forelimb. The resulting perceptual reports were analyzed with a model demonstrating that physically different combinations of vibration frequencies and amplitudes can produce equal pitch perception. We found that the perceptually indistinguishable but physically different stimuli follow a common computational principle in mouse and human. It dictates that vibrotactile pitch perception is shifted with increases in amplitude toward the frequency of highest vibrotactile sensitivity. These findings suggest the existence of a fundamental relationship between the seemingly unrelated concepts of spectral sensitivity and pitch perception.

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fingers / innervation
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Forelimb / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pitch Perception / physiology
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Touch Perception / physiology
  • Vibration
Citation (ISO format)
PRSA, Mario et al. A common computational principle for vibrotactile pitch perception in mouse and human. In: Nature Communications, 2021, vol. 12, n° 1, p. 5336. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25476-9
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Article (Published version)
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ISSN of the journal2041-1723

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