Neural time-course of the observation of human and non-human object touch

A. Streltsova, J. P. Mccleery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have reported activation of primary and secondary somatosensory cortices when participants observe another person or object being touched. In this study, we used event-related potentials to examine the nature and time-course of the neural mechanisms associated with the observation of humans and non-human objects being touched. Participants were presented with short video clips of a human arm or a non-human cylindrical object being touched by an object, compared with an object moving in front of the arms or cylinders without touching them. Touch vs non-touch effects were observed in the amplitudes of the N100 and N250 components, as well as a late slow wave component (500–600 ms), measured from electrodes over primary somatosensory cortex. Human vs non-human stimulus effects were reflected in the latencies of the N100, P170 and N250 components recorded over somatosensory cortex, as well as the temporal–parietal visual-perceptual N170 and N250 components. These findings suggest that human and non-human touch observation are associated with somatosensory processing at both an early sensory-perceptual stage and a relatively late cognitive stage, both preceding and following the perceptual encoding of the humanness of stimuli that typically occurs in extrastriate visual areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-341
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number3
Early online date29 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


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