Tactile pattern perception by two fingers: temporal interference and response competition

Percept Psychophys. 1997 Feb;59(2):252-65. doi: 10.3758/bf03211893.


The identification of a spatial pattern (target) presented to one fingerpad may be interfered with by the presentation of a second pattern (nontarget) to either the same fingerpad or a second fingerpad. A portion of the interference appears to be due to masking and a portion to response competition. In the present study, vibrotactile spatial patterns were designed to extend over two fingerpads. Target and nontarget patterns were presented to the same two fingerpads with a temporal separation between the two patterns. The function relating target identification to the temporal separation between the target and nontarget was very similar to the functions obtained with one-finger patterns in temporal masking studies. Subsequent measurements showed that a substantial portion of the interference resulted from response competition. Pattern categorization was better when patterns were presented to two fingers on opposite hands than to two fingers on the same hand; however, there was more interference for patterns presented bilaterally than for patterns presented ipsilaterally. The results supported the conclusion that similar processes are involved in the perception of sequences of spatial patterns whether the patterns are presented to one or to two fingers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Fingers
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perceptual Masking*
  • Stereognosis*
  • Touch*