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Full Access Haptic object recognition is influenced by head position but not the position of an inactive hand nor by task-irrelevant visual information

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Haptic object recognition is influenced by head position but not the position of an inactive hand nor by task-irrelevant visual information

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For more content, see Multisensory Research and Spatial Vision.

As we explore objects by touch we usually look towards our hands. Active touch (haptics) may therefore benefit from the simultaneous availability of visual information about the object that we are feeling and the alignment of spatial frames of reference centred on our head, eye and hand. If haptic processing usually uses visual and spatial inputs then even task-irrelevant visual and spatial manipulations may influence haptic shape identification. Scocchia et al. (2009) found that recognition of raised line pictures of familiar objects was better if people looked towards the pictures as they felt them although people were blindfolded so could not see their hand or the picture. We replicated their finding for 2D pictures and extended it to 3D, small-scale models of familiar objects. We also tested people’s speeded naming of real, familiar objects using their right hand. Performance was better when people looked towards the objects. In contrast, the position of the left hand did not influence haptic naming. Thus the spatial reference frame defined by the eyes/head influenced haptic shape processing but not that defined by an inactive hand. Furthermore, performance was the same whether people wore a mask and had their eyes closed, wore a mask but had their eyes open or looked through a narrow tube so could see a small area of their environment but not their hand or the object. Thus where people looked had a small but reliable effect on haptic object recognition but not what task-irrelevant information they could see.

Affiliations: 1: University of Liverpool, GB

As we explore objects by touch we usually look towards our hands. Active touch (haptics) may therefore benefit from the simultaneous availability of visual information about the object that we are feeling and the alignment of spatial frames of reference centred on our head, eye and hand. If haptic processing usually uses visual and spatial inputs then even task-irrelevant visual and spatial manipulations may influence haptic shape identification. Scocchia et al. (2009) found that recognition of raised line pictures of familiar objects was better if people looked towards the pictures as they felt them although people were blindfolded so could not see their hand or the picture. We replicated their finding for 2D pictures and extended it to 3D, small-scale models of familiar objects. We also tested people’s speeded naming of real, familiar objects using their right hand. Performance was better when people looked towards the objects. In contrast, the position of the left hand did not influence haptic naming. Thus the spatial reference frame defined by the eyes/head influenced haptic shape processing but not that defined by an inactive hand. Furthermore, performance was the same whether people wore a mask and had their eyes closed, wore a mask but had their eyes open or looked through a narrow tube so could see a small area of their environment but not their hand or the object. Thus where people looked had a small but reliable effect on haptic object recognition but not what task-irrelevant information they could see.

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1. Scocchia L. , Stucchi N. , Loomis J. M. ( 2009). "The influence of facing direction on the haptic identification of two-dimensional raised pictures", Perception Vol 38, 606612. http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/p5881
http://brill.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x647766
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/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x647766
2012-01-01
2016-12-05

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