A Change in the Fingertip Contact Area Induces an Illusory Displacement of the Finger
Imagine you are pushing your finger against a deformable, compliant object. The change in the area of contact can provide an estimate of the relative displacement of the finger, such that the larger is the area of contact, the larger is the displacement. Does the human haptic system use this as a cue for estimating the displacement of the finger with respect to the external object? Here we conducted a psychophysical experiment to test this hypothesis. Participants compared the passive displacement of the index finger between a reference and a comparison stimulus. The compliance of the contacted object changed between the two stimuli, thus producing a different area-displacement relationship. In accordance with the hypothesis, the modulation of the area-displacement relationship produced a bias in the perceived displacement of the finger.
KeywordsArea of contact Proprioception Finger displacement
This work is supported by the European Research Council under the ERC Advanced Grant no. 291166 SoftHands (A Theory of Soft Synergies for a New Generation of Artificial Hands). This work has received funding from the EU FP7/2007-2013 project no. 601165 WEARHAP (WEARable HAPtics for Humans and Robots) and project no. 248587 THE (The Hand Embodied).
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