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Social coding of the multisensory space around us

Abstract : Multisensory integration of stimuli occurring in the area surrounding our bodies gives rise to the functional representation of peripersonal space (PPS). PPS extent is flexible according to the affective context and the target of an action, but little is known about how social context modulates it. We used an audiotactile interaction task to investigate PPS of individuals during social interaction. Participants had to detect as fast as possible a tactile stimulus while task-irrelevant looming sounds were presented, while they were paired as collaborative dyads and as competitive dyads. We also measured PPS in participants seated near an inactive individual. PPS boundaries were modulated only when participants collaborated with a partner, in the form of an extension on the right hemispace and independently of the location of the partner. This suggests that space processing is modified during collaborative tasks. During collective actions, a supra-individual representation of the space of action could be at stake in order to adapt our individual motor control to an interaction as a group with the external world. Reassessing multisensory integration in the light of its potential social sensitivity might reveal that low-level mechanisms are modified by the need to interact with others.
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Lise Hobeika, Marine Taffou, Isabelle Viaud-Delmon. Social coding of the multisensory space around us. Royal Society Open Science, The Royal Society, 2019, 6 (8), pp.181878. ⟨10.1098/rsos.181878⟩. ⟨hal-02297084⟩

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