Texture Perception Through Direct and Indirect Touch: An Analysis of Perceptual Space for Tactile Textures in Two Modes of Exploration

Somatosens Mot Res. Mar-Jun 2007;24(1-2):53-70. doi: 10.1080/08990220701318163.

Abstract

Considerable information about the texture of objects can be perceived remotely through a probe. It is not clear, however, how texture perception with a probe compares with texture perception with the bare finger. Here we investigate the perception of a variety of textured surfaces encountered daily (e.g., corduroy, paper, and rubber) using the two scanning modes - direct touch through the finger and indirect touch through a probe held in the hand - in two tasks. In the first task, subjects rated the overall pair-wise dissimilarity of the textures. In the second task, subjects rated each texture along three continua, namely, perceived roughness, hardness, and stickiness of the surfaces, shown previously as the primary dimensions of texture perception in direct touch. From the dissimilarity judgment experiment, we found that the texture percept is similar though not identical in the two scanning modes. From the adjective rating experiments, we found that while roughness ratings are similar, hardness and stickiness ratings tend to differ between scanning conditions. These differences between the two modes of scanning are apparent in perceptual space for tactile textures based on multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis. Finally, we demonstrate that three physical quantities, vibratory power, compliance, and friction carry roughness, hardness, and stickiness information, predicting perceived dissimilarity of texture pairs with indirect touch. Given that different types of texture information are processed by separate groups of neurons across direct and indirect touch, we propose that the neural mechanisms underlying texture perception differ between scanning modes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Stereognosis / physiology*
  • Vibration