Haptic spatial matching in near peripersonal space

A.L. Kaas*, H.I. van Mier

*Corresponding author for this work

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Research has shown that haptic spatial matching at intermanual distances over 60 cm is prone to large systematic errors. The error pattern has been explained by the use of reference frames intermediate between egocentric and allocentric coding. This study investigated haptic performance in near peripersonal space, i.e. at intermanual distances of 60 cm and less. Twelve blindfolded participants (six males and six females) were presented with two turn bars at equal distances from the midsagittal plane, 30 or 60 cm apart. Different orientations (vertical/horizontal or oblique) of the left bar had to be matched by adjusting the right bar to either a mirror symmetric (/ \) or parallel (/ /) position. The mirror symmetry task can in principle be performed accurately in both an egocentric and an allocentric reference frame, whereas the parallel task requires an allocentric representation. Results showed that parallel matching induced large systematic errors which increased with distance. Overall error was significantly smaller in the mirror task. The task difference also held for the vertical orientation at 60 cm distance, even though this orientation required the same response in both tasks, showing a marked effect of task instruction. In addition, men outperformed women on the parallel task. Finally, contrary to our expectations, systematic errors were found in the mirror task, predominantly at 30 cm distance. Based on these findings, we suggest that haptic performance in near peripersonal space might be dominated by different mechanisms than those which come into play at distances over 60 cm. Moreover, our results indicate that both inter-individual differences and task demands affect task performance in haptic spatial matching. Therefore, we conclude that the study of haptic spatial matching in near peripersonal space might reveal important additional constraints for the specification of adequate models of haptic spatial performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-413
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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