We live in a dynamic environment, constantly confronted with approaching objects that we may either avoid or be forced to address. A multisensory and sensorimotor interface, the peripersonal space (PPS), mediates every physical interaction between our body and the environment. Behavioral investigations show high variability in the extension of PPS across individuals, but there is a lack of evidence on the neural underpinnings of these large individual differences. Here, we used approaching auditory stimuli and fMRI to capture the individual boundary of PPS and examine its neural underpinnings. Precisely, we tested the hypothesis that intertrial variability (ITV) in brain regions coding PPS predicts individual differences of its boundary at the behavioral level. Selectively in the premotor cortex, we found that ITV, rather than trial-averaged amplitude, of BOLD responses to far rather than near dynamic stimuli predicts the individual extension of PPS. Our results provide the first empirical support for the relevance of ITV of brain responses for individual differences in human behavior.
Ferri, F., Costantini, M., Huang, Z., Perrucci, M. G., Ferretti, A., Romani, G. L., & Northoff, G. (2015). Intertrial variability in the premotor cortex accounts for individual differences in peripersonal space. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(50), 16328-16339. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1696-15.2015