Tactile learning is task specific but transfers between fingers

Percept Psychophys. 1997 Jan;59(1):119-28. doi: 10.3758/bf03206854.


Practice-related improvement in visual perception is highly specific for properties of the stimulus used in training. We explored the specificity of such perceptual learning in the human tactile system, using gratings consisting of alternating ridges and groves. Practice effects on grating discrimination showed limited transfer between grating sets defined by spatial variation in either groove width or ridge width, consistent with partially overlapping neural representations of these two spatial parameters. In contrast, substantial interdigital transfer of practice effects occurred for discrimination of gratings varying in either spatial parameter and also for spatial acuity-dependent discrimination of grating orientation. We conclude that tactile learning, although quite as task specific as in other sensory systems, generalizes with considerable facility across fingers, unlike visual learning, which is highly location specific.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Fingers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Orientation*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychophysics
  • Stereognosis*
  • Touch*
  • Transfer, Psychology*