It is well-documented that the intensity of a self-generated somatosensory stimulus is perceived to be attenuated in respect to an identical stimulus generated by others. At present, it is not clear whether such a phenomenon, known as somatosensory attenuation, is based not only on feedforward motor signals but also on re-afferences towards the body. To answer this question, in the present pilot investigation on twelve healthy subjects, three types of stimulations (sensory non-nociceptive electrical – ES, nociceptive electrical – NES, and vibrotactile – VTS) and intensities (1 = sensory threshold ∗ 2.5 + 2 mA, 2 = sensory threshold ∗ 2.5 + 3 mA, 3 = sensory threshold ∗ 2.5 + 4 mA for ES and NES; 1 = sensory threshold ∗ 2 Hz, 2 = sensory threshold ∗ 3 Hz, 3 = sensory threshold ∗ 4 Hz for VTS) have been directly compared in a somatosensory attenuation paradigm. The results show that the attenuation effect emerged only with electrical stimuli and that it increased with higher intensities. These pilot findings suggest that, depending on the type and the intensity of stimulation, re-afferences can have a role in somatosensory attenuation. Additionally, it is possible to speculate the effect is present only with electrical stimuli because those stimuli are prospectively judged as potentially dangerous. This, in turn, would optimize planning successful reactions to incoming threatening stimuli.
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