The role of mechanical impact in action-related auditory attenuation

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A number of studies have shown that sounds temporally close to one’s own finger movements elicit lower-amplitude auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) than do the same tones when they are only listened to. In these studies, the actions have involved making a mechanical contact with an object. In the present study, the role of mechanical contact with an object was investigated in action-related auditory attenuation. In three experiments, participants performed a time-interval production task. In each experiment, in one condition the action involved touching an object, but no mechanical contact was made in the other. The estimated tone-related ERP contributions to the action–tone coincidence ERP waveforms (calculated by subtracting the action-related ERP from the coincidence ERP) were more attenuated when the action involved moving the finger and making a mechanical contact at the end of the movement. However, when participants kept their finger on a piezoelectric element and applied pressure impulses without moving their finger, the action did not result in stronger attenuation of the tone-related auditory ERP estimates. Although these results may suggest that auditory ERP attenuation is stronger for actions resulting in mechanical impact, they also imply that mechanical impact may confound and lead to the overestimation of auditory ERP attenuation in such paradigms, because the impact may result in faint but audible sounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1392-1406
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Action
  • Attention
  • Auditory perception
  • ERP
  • Forward model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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