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1.  Tactile Motion Adaptation Reduces Perceived Speed but Shows No Evidence of Direction Sensitivity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45438.
While the directionality of tactile motion processing has been studied extensively, tactile speed processing and its relationship to direction is little-researched and poorly understood. We investigated this relationship in humans using the ‘tactile speed aftereffect’ (tSAE), in which the speed of motion appears slower following prolonged exposure to a moving surface.
We used psychophysical methods to test whether the tSAE is direction sensitive. After adapting to a ridged moving surface with one hand, participants compared the speed of test stimuli on the adapted and unadapted hands. We varied the direction of the adapting stimulus relative to the test stimulus.
Perceived speed of the surface moving at 81 mms−1 was reduced by about 30% regardless of the direction of the adapting stimulus (when adapted in the same direction, Mean reduction = 23 mms−1, SD = 11; with opposite direction, Mean reduction = 26 mms−1, SD = 9). In addition to a large reduction in perceived speed due to adaptation, we also report that this effect is not direction sensitive.
Tactile motion is susceptible to speed adaptation. This result complements previous reports of reliable direction aftereffects when using a dynamic test stimulus as together they describe how perception of a moving stimulus in touch depends on the immediate history of stimulation. Given that the tSAE is not direction sensitive, we argue that peripheral adaptation does not explain it, because primary afferents are direction sensitive with friction-creating stimuli like ours (thus motion in their preferred direction should result in greater adaptation, and if perceived speed were critically dependent on these afferents’ response intensity, the tSAE should be direction sensitive). The adaptation that reduces perceived speed therefore seems to be of central origin.
PMCID: PMC3454433  PMID: 23029010
2.  Modulation of Human Muscle Spindle Discharge by Arterial Pulsations - Functional Effects and Consequences 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35091.
Arterial pulsations are known to modulate muscle spindle firing; however, the physiological significance of such synchronised modulation has not been investigated. Unitary recordings were made from 75 human muscle spindle afferents innervating the pretibial muscles. The modulation of muscle spindle discharge by arterial pulsations was evaluated by R-wave triggered averaging and power spectral analysis. We describe various effects arterial pulsations may have on muscle spindle afferent discharge. Afferents could be “driven” by arterial pulsations, e.g., showing no other spontaneous activity than spikes generated with cardiac rhythmicity. Among afferents showing ongoing discharge that was not primarily related to cardiac rhythmicity we illustrate several mechanisms by which individual spikes may become phase-locked. However, in the majority of afferents the discharge rate was modulated by the pulse wave without spikes being phase locked. Then we assessed whether these influences changed in two physiological conditions in which a sustained increase in muscle sympathetic nerve activity was observed without activation of fusimotor neurones: a maximal inspiratory breath-hold, which causes a fall in systolic pressure, and acute muscle pain, which causes an increase in systolic pressure. The majority of primary muscle spindle afferents displayed pulse-wave modulation, but neither apnoea nor pain had any significant effect on the strength of this modulation, suggesting that the physiological noise injected by the arterial pulsations is robust and relatively insensitive to fluctuations in blood pressure. Within the afferent population there was a similar number of muscle spindles that were inhibited and that were excited by the arterial pulse wave, indicating that after signal integration at the population level, arterial pulsations of opposite polarity would cancel each other out. We speculate that with close-to-threshold stimuli the arterial pulsations may serve as an endogenous noise source that may synchronise the sporadic discharge within the afferent population and thus facilitate the detection of weak stimuli.
PMCID: PMC3328488  PMID: 22529975

Results 1-2 (2)