Visual and haptic discrimination of symmetry in unfamiliar displays extended in the z-axis

Perception. 2004;33(3):315-27. doi: 10.1068/p5017.


We investigated, in two experiments, the discrimination of bilateral symmetry in vision and touch using four sets of unfamiliar displays. They varied in complexity from 3 to 30 turns. Two sets were 2-D flat forms (raised-line shapes and raised surfaces) while the other two were 3-D objects constructed by extending the 2-D shapes in height (short and tall objects). Experiment 1 showed that visual accuracy was excellent but latencies increased for raised-line shapes compared with 3-D objects. Experiment 2 showed that unimanual exploration was more accurate for asymmetric than for symmetric judgments, but only for 2-D shapes and short objects. Bimanual exploration at the body midline facilitated the discrimination of symmetric shapes without changing performance with asymmetric ones. Accuracy for haptically explored symmetric stimuli improved as the stimuli were extended in the third dimension, while no such a trend appeared for asymmetric stimuli. Unlike vision, haptic response latency decreased for 2-D shapes compared with 3-D objects. The present results are relevant to the understanding of symmetry discrimination in vision and touch.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depth Perception / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychophysics
  • Reaction Time
  • Stereognosis / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*