Interesting work reported by Onuki et al. in the Journal of Neuroscience:SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT
Tactile sensations can bias our visual perception as a form of cross-modal interaction. However, it was reported only in the awake state. Here we show that repetitive directional tactile motion stimulation on the fingertip during slow wave sleep selectively enhanced subsequent visual motion perception. Moreover, the visual improvement was positively associated with sleep slow wave activity. The tactile motion stimulation during slow wave activity increased the activation at the high beta frequency over the occipital electrodes. The visual improvement occurred in agreement with a hand-centered reference frame. These results suggest that our sleeping brain can interpret tactile information based on a hand-centered reference frame, which can cause the sleep-dependent improvement of visual motion detection.
Tactile sensations can bias visual perception in the awake state while visual sensitivity is known to be facilitated by sleep. It remains unknown, however, whether the tactile sensation during sleep can bias the visual improvement after sleep. Here, we performed nap experiments in human participants (n = 56, 18 males, 38 females) to demonstrate that repetitive tactile motion stimulation on the fingertip during slow wave sleep selectively enhanced subsequent visual motion detection. The visual improvement was associated with slow wave activity. The high activation at the high beta frequency was found in the occipital electrodes after the tactile motion stimulation during sleep, indicating a visual-tactile cross-modal interaction during sleep. Furthermore, a second experiment (n = 14, 14 females) to examine whether a hand- or head-centered coordination is dominant for the interpretation of tactile motion direction showed that the biasing effect on visual improvement occurs according to the hand-centered coordination. These results suggest that tactile information can be interpreted during sleep, and can induce the selective improvement of post-sleep visual motion detection.