The neural mechanisms underlying variability in human sensory perception remain incompletely understood. In particular, few studies have attempted to investigate the relationship between in vivo measurements of neurochemistry and individuals' behavioral performance. Our previous work found a relationship between GABA concentration in the visual cortex and orientation discrimination thresholds (Edden et al., 2009). In the present study, we used magnetic resonance spectroscopy of GABA and psychophysical testing of vibrotactile frequency thresholds to investigate whether individual differences in tactile frequency discrimination performance are correlated with GABA concentration in sensorimotor cortex. Behaviorally, individuals showed a wide range of discrimination thresholds ranging from 3 to 7.6 Hz around the 25 Hz standard. These frequency discrimination thresholds were significantly correlated with GABA concentration (r=-0.58; p<0.05) in individuals' sensorimotor cortex, but not with GABA concentration in an occipital control region (r=-0.04). These results demonstrate a link between GABA concentration and frequency discrimination in vivo, and support the hypothesis that GABAergic mechanisms have an important role to play in sensory discrimination.
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