Elena Azañón Gracia obtains a Marie Curie fellowship

Elena Azañon Gracia, at present a postdoctoral collaborator in MRG and lecturer at the Basic Psychology Department at the University of Barcelona, will join the group of Prof. Haggard in the Institute Cognitive Neuroscience (University College London) as a Marie Curie postdoctoral Fellow with the project "Touch and action in spatial perception".

The project funded by the Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship Program for Career Development (FP7-PEOPLE-2011-IEF) intends to address an important, yet unresolved topic in tactile research: how the brain computes the origin of a tactile stimulus in space. Although it might seem trivial at first sight, the external location of a touch in a given skin region changes as body parts move. It is fundamental therefore to represent touch in a reference frame beyond somatotopy, to place tactile events within a common representational medium where other sensory events are represented, and/or make them the target of directed actions.

Tactile remapping is the process that allows us to accurately refer touch to its actual external location, taking into account current body posture. Despite the motor component is implicit in this framework, to date, tactile remapping has been studied exclusively in the context of perceptual systems. The main goal of the project is revealing the putative relations between the motor system and the perception of touch in external space. To this aim, motor-related activity will be manipulated to study whether tactile perception in external space is straightforwardly related to motor planning and execution.