The aim of this study was to understand the integration of cutaneous and kinesthetic sensory modalities in haptic perception of shape orientation. A specific robotic apparatus was employed to simulate the exploration of virtual surfaces by active touch with two fingers, with kinesthetic only, cutaneous only and combined sensory feedback. The cutaneous feedback was capable of displaying the local surface orientation at the contact point, through a small plate indenting the fingerpad at contact. A psychophysics test was conducted with SDT methodology on 6 subjects to assess the discrimination threshold of angle perception between two parallel surfaces, with three sensory modalities and two shape sizes. Results show that the cutaneous sensor modality is not affected by size of shape, but kinesthetic performance is decreasing with smaller size. Cutaneous and kinesthetic sensory cues are integrated according to a Bayesian model, so that the combined sensory stimulation always performs better than single modalities alone.
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