Various studies have shown subjects to mislocalize cutaneous stimuli in an idiosyncratic manner. Spatial properties of individual localization behavior can be represented in the form of perceptual maps. Individual differences in these maps may reflect properties of internal body representations, and perceptual maps may therefore be a useful method for studying these representations. For this to be the case, individual perceptual maps need to be reproducible, which has not yet been demonstrated. We assessed the reproducibility of localizations measured twice on subsequent days. Ten subjects participated in the experiments. Non-painful electrocutaneous stimuli were applied at seven sites on the lower arm. Subjects localized the stimuli on a photograph of their own arm, which was presented on a tablet screen overlaying the real arm. Reproducibility was assessed by calculating intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) for the mean localizations of each electrode site and the slope and offset of regression models of the localizations, which represent scaling and displacement of perceptual maps relative to the stimulated sites. The ICCs of the mean localizations ranged from 0.68 to 0.93; the ICCs of the regression parameters were 0.88 for the intercept and 0.92 for the slope. These results indicate a high degree of reproducibility. We conclude that localization patterns of non-painful electrocutaneous stimuli on the arm are reproducible on subsequent days. Reproducibility is a necessary property of perceptual maps for these to reflect properties of a subject’s internal body representations. Perceptual maps are therefore a promising method for studying body representations.
- Localization of cutaneous stimuli
- Reproducibility of cutaneous spatial perception
- Tactile spatial perception
- Electrocutaneous stimulation
- Body representations