The effect of movie-watching on electroencephalographic responses to tactile stimulation

Movie-watching is becoming a popular acquisition method to increase compliance and enable neuroimaging data collection in challenging populations such as children, with potential to facilitate studying the somatosensory system. However, relatively little is known about the possible crossmodal (audiovisual) influence of movies on cortical somatosensory processing. In this study, we examined the impact of dynamic audiovisual movies on concurrent cortical somatosensory processing using electroencephalography (EEG). Forty healthy young adults (18–25 years) received passive tactile fingertip stimulation while watching an “entertaining” movie and a novel “low-demand” movie called ‘Inscapes’ compared to eyes-open rest. Watching a movie did not modulate properties of early or late somatosensory-evoked potentials (SEPs). Similarly, no crossmodal influence on somatosensory adaptation, denoted by a reduction in SEP amplitude with repetitive tactile stimulation, was found. The prominent oscillatory responses in the alpha and beta frequency bands following tactile stimulation differed as a function of viewing condition, with stronger alpha/beta event-related desynchronization (ERD) during movie-watching compared to rest. These findings highlight that movie-watching is a valid acquisition method during which SEPs can be measured in basic research and clinical studies, but that the attentional demands of movies need to be taken into account when performing oscillatory analyses.
somatosensory-evoked potentials, ERP, EEG, adaptation, tactile stimulation, movies
Espenhahn, S., Yan, T., Beltrano, W., Kaur, S., Godfrey, K., Cortese, F., Bray, S., & Harris, A. D. (2020). The effect of movie-watching on electroencephalographic responses to tactile stimulation. NeuroImage, 220, 117130.