The term “sensory modality” was introduced by Helmholtz (Boring, 1942). A sensory modality is a class of sensations. That is, sensations of two different modalities are qualitatively different (e.g., hearing versus vision), whereas sensations within a single modality are only quantitatively different (e.g., different frequencies of two sounds). Muller (1840-2) regarded the sensation derived from skin stimulation as a single sensory modality (“touch”), following Aristotle’s classification of the five senses (touch, vision, hearing, smell, and taste). However, contemporary investigators consider such sensations as touch, pain, cold, and warm to be discrete modalities. A given sensory modality would have a number of characteristics or attributes, such as quality, intensity, duration, and extension.
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