Motor properties of peripersonal space in humans

Andrea Serino, Laura Annella, Alessio Avenanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A stimulus approaching the body requires fast processing and appropriate motor reactions. In monkeys, fronto-parietal networks are involved both in integrating multisensory information within a limited space surrounding the body (i.e. peripersonal space, PPS) and in action planning and execution, suggesting an overlap between sensory representations of space and motor representations of action. In the present study we investigate whether these overlapping representations also exist in the human brain. Methodology/Principal Findings: We recorded from hand muscles motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) induced by single-pulse of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) after presenting an auditory stimulus either near the hand or in far space. MEPs recorded 50 ms after the near-sound onset were enhanced compared to MEPs evoked after far sounds. This near-far modulation faded at longer inter-stimulus intervals, and reversed completely for MEPs recorded 300 ms after the sound onset. At that time point, higher motor excitability was associated with far sounds. Such auditory modulation of hand motor representation was specific to a hand-centred, and not a body-centred reference frame. Conclusions/Significance: This pattern of corticospinal modulation highlights the relation between space and time in the PPS representation: an early facilitation for near stimuli may reflect immediate motor preparation, whereas, at later time intervals, motor preparation relates to distant stimuli potentially approaching the body.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6582
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 11 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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