We explored predictions of a scheme that views position and force perception as a result of measuring proprioceptive signals within a reference frame set by ongoing efferent process. In particular, this hypothesis predicts force illusions caused by muscle vibration and mediated via changes in both afferent and efferent components of kinesthesia. Healthy subjects performed accurate steady force production tasks by pressing with the four fingers of one hand (the task hand) on individual force sensors with and without visual feedback. At various times during the trials, subjects matched the perceived force using the other hand. High-frequency vibration was applied to one or both of the forearms (over the hand and finger extensors). Without visual feedback, subjects showed a drop in the task hand force, which was significantly smaller under the vibration of that forearm. Force production by the matching hand was consistently higher than that of the task hand. Vibrating one of the forearms affected the matching hand in a manner consistent with the perception of higher magnitude of force produced by the vibrated hand. The findings were consistent between the dominant and nondominant hands. The effects of vibration on both force drift and force mismatching suggest that vibration led to shifts in both signals from proprio-ceptors and the efferent component of perception, the referent coordinate and/or coactivation command. The observations fit the hypothesis on combined perception of kinematic-kinetic variables with little specificity of different groups of peripheral receptors that all contribute to perception of forces and coordinates. NEW & NOTEWORTHY We show that vibration of hand/finger extensors produces consistent errors in finger force perception. Without visual feedback, finger force drifted to lower values without a drift in the matching force produced by the other hand; hand extensor vibration led to smaller finger force drift. The findings fit the scheme with combined perception of kinematic-kinetic variables and suggest that vibration leads to consistent shifts of the referent coordinate and, possibly, of coactivation command to the effector.
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