Motor-sensory recalibration leads to an illusory reversal of action and sensation

Neuron. 2006 Sep 7;51(5):651-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.08.006.


To judge causality, organisms must determine the temporal order of their actions and sensations. However, this judgment may be confounded by changing delays in sensory pathways, suggesting the need for dynamic temporal recalibration. To test for such a mechanism, we artificially injected a fixed delay between participants' actions (keypresses) and subsequent sensations (flashes). After participants adapted to this delay, flashes at unexpectedly short delays after the keypress were often perceived as occurring before the keypress, demonstrating a recalibration of motor-sensory temporal order judgments. When participants experienced illusory reversals, fMRI BOLD signals increased in anterior cingulate cortex/medial frontal cortex (ACC/MFC), a brain region previously implicated in conflict monitoring. This illusion-specific activation suggests that the brain maintains not only a recalibrated representation of timing, but also a less-plastic representation against which to compare it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Time Factors