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Haptically perceived softness of deformable stimuli can be manipulated by applying external forces during the exploration

Metzger, Anna; Drewing, Knut

The perception of softness is the result of the integration of information provided by multiple cutaneous and kinesthetic signals. The relative contributions of these signals to the combined percept of softness was not yet addressed directly. We transmitted subtle external vertical forces to the exploring human finger during the exploration of deformable silicone rubber stimuli to dissociate the force estimates provided by the kinesthetic signals and the efference copy from cutaneous force estimates. This manipulation introduced a conflict between the cutaneous and the kinesthetic/efference copy information on softness. We measured Points of Subjective Equality (PSE) of manipulated references to stimuli which were explored without external forces. PSEs shifted as a linear function of external force in predicted directions - to higher compliances with pushing and to lower compliances with pulling force. We found relative contribution of kinesthetic/efference copy information to perceived softness being 23% for rather hard and 29% for rather soft stimuli. Our results suggest that an integration of the kinesthetic/efference copy information and cutaneous information with constant weights underlies softness perception. The kinesthetic/efference copy information seems to be slightly more important for the perception of rather soft stimuli.

Metzger, A., & Drewing, K. (2015). Haptically perceived softness of deformable stimuli can be manipulated by applying external forces during the exploration. In World Haptics Conference (WHC), 2015 IEEE (pp. 75-81). IEEE.


The Zip file contains all data relative to the publication. The data of each participant is contained in a separate folder. This folder contains a *.raw file for each session of the experiment and a "data" folder, which contains movement trajectories (*.trj files) and the staircase reversals for each condition (*.pse files) in separate folders for each session.

A description of the variables is contained in the file VARIABLE_CODES.txt

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