Movement-related modulation of vibrotactile detection thresholds in the human orofacial system

Richard D. Andreatta, Steven M. Barlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


By virtue of the direct coupling between circumoral skin and the underlying orofacial musculature, mechanosensation associated with precise orofacial force control may contribute significantly to processes associated with perception, proprioception, and sensorimotor control in this region. The purpose of this study was to assess lower lip (LL) vibratory detection thresholds of adult subjects during the simultaneous performance of a visually guided and continuous lip motor control task. Vibrotactile inputs were delivered to the right LL vermilion at test frequencies of 5, 10, 50, 150, 250, and 300 Hz. The psychophysical detection task was performed simultaneously with the three force control conditions: a null-force baseline condition, an active force control task performed with the right index finger, and an active force control task performed with the lip musculature. For the active tasks, subjects were instructed to use their analog force signal (lip or finger) to continuously perform a visually guided precision force task by tracking a 2 Hz sinusoidally moving target calibrated to a peak-to-peak force load of 0.2 N. Both the analog force signal and the target-tracking signal were displayed in real-time on an oscilloscope. Results showed a statistically significant elevation of LL vibrotactile detection thresholds for test frequencies below 50 Hz during the simultaneous performance of the lip force control task. Disassociating the site of motor control from the location of sensory stimulation (active control task) was effective in normalizing the elevations in LL vibrotactile thresholds, thus demonstrating that the threshold elevation during the lip force task was not solely an artifact of the added attentional load resulting from combining a perceptual task with a motor control requirement. These findings are discussed in relation to published reports of movement-related sensory gating in limb systems and the possible significance that this phenomenon may have for perception and proprioception in the orofacial system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements Deep gratitude is expressed to Dr. Donald Finan and Mr. Amitava Biswas for their assistance with signal processing routines, software development, and technical issues. Many thanks are also given to Kelly Rosamond for her administrative assistance in preparation of this manuscript. This project was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, USA (R01 DC00365-08), and by NeuroLogic Incorporated (Lawrence, KS, USA).


  • Lip force
  • Mechanosensory
  • Perception
  • Psychophysical
  • Sensory gating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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