How motion and sensory inputs are combined to assess an object’s stiffness is still unknown. Here, we provide evidence for the existence of a stiffness estimator in the human posterior parietal cortex (PPC). We showed previously that delaying force feedback with respect to motion when interacting with an object caused participants to underestimate its stiffness. We found that applying theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the PPC, but not the dorsal premotor cortex, enhances this effect without affecting movement control. We explain this enhancement as an additional lag in force signals. This is the first causal evidence that the PPC is not only involved in motion control, but also has an important role in perception that is disassociated from action. We provide a computational model suggesting that the PPC integrates position and force signals for perception of stiffness and that TMS alters the synchronization between the two signals causing lasting consequences on perceptual behavior.
- Position control