The vibrations of texture

Somatosens Mot Res. 2003;20(1):33-43. doi: 10.1080/0899022031000083825.


The Pacinian channel has been implicated in the perception of fine textures (Hollins et al., Somatosens Mot Res 18: 253-262, 2001a). In the present study, we investigate candidate codes for Pacinian-mediated roughness perception. We use a Hall effect transducer to record the vibrations elicited in the skin when a set of textured surfaces is passively presented to the index finger. The peak frequency of the vibrations is found to decrease systematically as spatial period increases. The power of the vibrations--weighted according to the spectral sensitivity of the Pacinian system--increases with spatial period for all but the coarsest surfaces. By varying the scanning velocity, we manipulate the temporal and intensive characteristics of the texture-induced vibrations and assess the effect of the manipulation on perceived roughness. We find that doubling the scanning velocity does not result in the substantial decrease in roughness predicted by a frequency theory of vibrotactile roughness perception. On the other hand, the effects of speed on roughness match those of speed on power. We propose that the roughness of a fine surface (spatial period<200 microm) is a function of the Pacinian-weighted power of the vibrations it elicits.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Psychophysics
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Transducers
  • Vibration*