Salient features in 3-D haptic shape perception

Myrthe A. Plaisier, Wouter M. Bergmann Tiest, Astrid M.L. Kappers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Shape is an important cue for recognizing an object by touch. Several features, such as edges, curvature, surface area, and aspect ratio, are associated with 3-D shape. To investigate the saliency of 3-D shape features, we developed a haptic search task. The target and distractor items consisted of shapes (cube, sphere, tetrahedron, cylinder, and ellipsoid) that differed in several of these features. Exploratory movements were left as unconstrained as possible. Our results show that this type of haptic search task can be performed very efficiently (25 msec/item) and that edges and vertices are the most salient features. Furthermore, very salient local features, such as edges, can also be perceived through enclosure, an exploratory procedure usually associated with global shape. Since the subjects had to answer as quickly as possible, this suggests that speed may be a factor in selecting the appropriate exploratory procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-430
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception, & Psychophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


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