Dynamic cutaneous information is sufficient for precise curvature discrimination

J.R. Cheeseman, J.F. Norman, A.M.L. Kappers

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Our tactual perceptual experiences occur when we interact, actively and passively, with environmental objects and surfaces. Previous research has demonstrated that active manual exploration often enhances the tactual perception of object shape. Nevertheless, the factors that contribute to this enhancement are not well understood. The present study evaluated the ability of 28 younger (mean age was 23.1 years) and older adults (mean age was 71.4 years) to discriminate curved surfaces by actively feeling objects with a single index finger and by passively feeling objects that moved relative to a restrained finger. While dynamic cutaneous stimulation was therefore present in both conditions, active exploratory movements only occurred in one. The results indicated that there was a significant and large effect of age, such that the older participants’ thresholds were 43.8 percent higher than those of the younger participants. Despite the overall adverse effect of age, the pattern of results across the active and passive touch conditions was identical. For both age groups, the curvature discrimination thresholds obtained for passive touch were significantly lower than those that occurred during active touch. Curvature discrimination performance was therefore best in the current study when dynamic cutaneous stimulation occurred in the absence of active movement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number25473
Number of pages7
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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