The Psychology of Touch

By Morton A. Heller; William Schiff | Go to book overview

the organism, and also in terms of the role of the thermal system in informing us concerning the thermally conductive nature of surfaces and substances. He also examines issues in thermal hedonics. He treats the psychophysics of thermal sensitivity in detail, touching on thermal adaptation phenomena. We thus obtain a detailed picture of how the skin and its various receptor systems may function to signal the CNS concerning thermal changes and differences. This can be extremely important not only in avoiding or minimizing tissue damage, but in discovering other objective or hedonic properties of objects, surfaces, and substances.

Although issues of pain perception are mentioned by authors of other chapters, Rollman takes us deeper into a topic that can be as fascinating as the painful experience can be unpleasant, that is, our sensitivities to pain and painful aspects of certain forms of stimulation. Rollman stresses the impact of cognition and emotional factors in the description and evaluation of stimulation as painful, and their roles in pain alleviation. He also examines receptors and their physiology, as well as the relevant spinal tracts, subcortical and cortical areas of the brain in pain. His discussion amplifies the questionable aspects of simple one-to-one models of punctate skin sensitivity, or even sensation-receptor specificity, in the context of a voluminous catalog of receptor types and their relationship to pain. Any strong tactile sensation can be experienced as pain, including those derived from thermal stimulation, pressure, and chemicals. A further difficulty in pain research has been to clarify the relationships between stimulation and CNS transmission lines (e.g., spinal mechanisms), and it is here that specificity has failed to provide all of the answers. Clinical topics relating to pain alleviation are discussed in detail from both methodological and practical standpoints, with specific attention to various sources of pain.

Researchers on pain are confronted with difficult, but important paradoxes. Pain is a "subjective" phenomenon, but we often try to measure it "objectively." Rollman has tried to come to grips with a number of important theoretical and applied issues in pain perception.

We should point out that there are alternative ways to conceptualize touch, and active movement can modify sensory experiences ( Coquery, 1978). It is rather difficult to tickle oneself! In addition, movement may help to organize sensory experience.


REFERENCES

Coquery J. ( 1978). "Role of active movement in control of afferent input from skin in cat and man". In G. Gordon (Ed.), Active touch. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press.

Gibson J. J. ( 1966). The senses considered as perceptual systems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

-22-

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The Psychology of Touch
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • References x
  • References xi
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • Part I Sensory Phenomena 21
  • References 22
  • Chapter 2 Sensory and Physiological Bases of Touch 23
  • References 55
  • Chapter 3 Thermal Sensibility 61
  • References 87
  • Chapter 14 Pain Responsiveness 91
  • References 111
  • References 112
  • Part II Development and Intermodal Relations 115
  • References 117
  • Chapter 5 Intermodality Relations: Vision and Touch 119
  • References 135
  • Chapter 6 the Development of Haptic Perception During Infancy 139
  • Part III Tactile Pattern Perception 163
  • References 166
  • Chapter 7 Haptic Perception of Form: Activity and Stimulus Attributes 169
  • Chapter 8 Vibrotactile Pattern Perception: Some Findings and Applications 189
  • References 213
  • Chapter 9 Braille 219
  • References 235
  • References 238
  • Chapter 10 Haptic Perception in Blind People 239
  • Chapter 11 Tactile Pictures 263
  • References 296
  • Chapter 12 a Reversed Lag in the Recognition and Production of Tactual Drawings: Theoretical Implications for Haptic Coding 301
  • References 323
  • Chapter 13 Conclusions: the Future of Touch 327
  • References 336
  • Author Index 339
  • Subject Index 349
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