Cortical Neuronal Mechanisms Underlying the Perception of Motion Across the Skin
The tactile sense is normally used to perceive contact of the body with external objects, and to measure their size, geometric form, texture, density and weight. This information is used not only for conscious awareness of the external environment, but also to guide motor activity. Most of these sensory funtions involve motion of the object into and across the skin, as motion enhances one’s sensory discriminative abilities, particularly for size, shape and texture recognition (Gibson, 1962; Lederman, 1974; Morley, et al., 1983). Motion of the skin can be active, as when exploring one’s environment, or passive, as when contacting another living animal, or a moving object. Psychophysical studies have shown that active and passive modes are equally effective in providing information for texture perception (Lederman, 1974), but active motion is superior for shape recognition (Gibson, 1962).
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