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, 16 (3), 197-206

Grating Orientation as a Measure of Tactile Spatial Acuity

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Grating Orientation as a Measure of Tactile Spatial Acuity

J C Craig. Somatosens Mot Res.

Abstract

Recent studies have used grating orientation as a measure of tactile spatial acuity on the fingerpad. In this task subjects identify the orientation of a grooved surface presented in either the proximal-distal or lateral-medial orientation. Other recent results have suggested that there might be a substantial anisotropy on the fingerpad related to spatial sensitivity. This anisotropy was revealed using a task in which subjects discriminated between a smooth and a grooved surface presented at different orientations on the fingerpad. The anisotropy was substantial enough that it might permit subjects to discriminate grating orientation on the basis of intensive rather than spatial cues. The present study examined the possibility that anisotropy on the fingerpad might provide cues in a spatial acuity task. The ability of subjects to discriminate between a smooth and a grooved surface was measured under conditions that are typically used in grating orientation tasks. No evidence of anisotropy was found. Also, using a grating orientation task, separate estimates were made of sensitivity in the proximal-distal and lateral-medial orientations. Again no evidence of anisotropy was found. Consistent with changes in the density of innervation, grating orientation sensitivity was found to vary as a function of location on the fingerpad. The results support the view that grating orientation is a valid measure of spatial acuity reflecting underlying neural, spatial mechanisms.

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